IVN NEWS: Asm. Cheryl Brown: Education Is Top Budget Issue In California

In 2010, California’s budget negotiations stalled for over three months past the constitutional deadline. Partisan gridlock muddied the debate over how to manage the state’s $60 billion deficit and spending per student in California ranked 46th in the nation, according to the California Budget Project. At the time, 80 percent of California voters said the state was on the wrong track.

Shortly thereafter, voters made a number of changes in Sacramento: Governor Jerry Brown took office in 2011; voters approved a law that allowed the Legislature to pass a budget with a simple-majority vote, instead of a two-thirds vote; California’s nonpartisan, top-two primary was passed by a majority of voters under Proposition 14; and new electoral maps were drawn up by an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Five years later, California’s budget is showing a surplus, and spending per pupil is on track to return to pre-recession levels.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office noted, “The state has made significant progress in addressing the wall of debt, including this budget’s anticipated elimination of all remaining school payment deferrals.”

Assemblymember Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernadino), serving her second term in the Legislature, says investing in education is the key to a healthy budget.

“It is important that we continue to invest in our schools,” she said in an interview for IVN. “Education is the best investment that communities can make to help businesses grow.”

She argues that if more students graduate from high school, they are more likely to get jobs at small businesses within the community. Brown identified increased funding for K-12 education as one of the biggest priorities to be addressed in the upcoming budget.

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