Thursday, December 9, 2010

Call to Action from CLA

Just in case anyone hasn't seen this yet:

News From The Capitol
December 9, 2010

Deficit Could Grow By Another $2.7 Billion – ACTION REQUESTED

By: Mike Dillon & Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyists

On January 3, Governor-Elect Jerry Brown will be sworn into office, and by law, the new Governor will be required to submit a balanced State Budget by Monday, January 10, 2011. During the weeks leading up to the gubernatorial transition he has been actively meeting with Department of Finance representatives in the current Schwarzenegger Administration. The Governor-Elect has been receiving regular briefings on the $25 billion projected Budget deficit for the 2011-12 year and yesterday he hosted a symposium for the members of the California Legislature to present to them the dire state of the State. The forum also featured analysis and remarks from the State Controller, State Treasurer, State Legislative Analyst, Director of the Department of Finance, and three of the legislative leaders. These dignitaries sat alongside the Governor-Elect and actively worked through a detailed PowerPoint presentation regarding the state’s finances, program obligations, credit ratings, and borrowing commitments.

Governor-Elect Brown convened the forum by stating that he was “determined to do everything I can to get us back on track.” He added that the purpose of convening was not to “argue about solutions,” but rather to “set a common factual basis” for the Budget problem that would allow the legislature and statewide leaders to have a more productive discussion about solutions. In a surprise announcement, Governor-Elect Brown indicated that the Budget deficit – recently projected at $25.4 billion, may now have grown to approximately $28 billion, due to a potential estate tax revenue loss, depending on Congressional actions. Most startling was the discussion regarding the state’s “threats and pressures” in the out years, such as the unfunded pension liability (projected at $100 billion to $500 billion), unemployment insurance liability ($10.3 billion), outstanding Budget borrowing ($15.3 billion), and the cost of implementing the new health care reform mandates ($3.5 billion). The State Controller and State Treasurer said that while the recession has probably reached its bottom, recovery will be slow, and they cautioned that it is imperative to produce an on-time Budget that addresses the ongoing concerns of Wall Street investors, including but not limited to: the structural imbalance, the partisan environment, and the lack of liquidity, etc.

Protecting Library Funding in the 2011-12 Budget

Given the state’s extreme and unprecedented Budget situation, we are unsure what Governor Brown’s leaning will be toward the state financing of library programs, particularly the Public Library Foundation, Transaction Based Reimbursement and the literacy program. In fact, Governor-Elect Brown presents an interesting challenge in that when he was Governor 30 years ago he actually vetoed the legislation creating the Public Library Foundation in 1980. At the time, he argued that the state was facing financial difficulties and could not afford the program. Two years later, when CLA sponsored the bill again, Governor Brown allowed the bill to become law without his signature – a move rarely employed by governors. We are hopeful that the Governor-Elect will be supportive of libraries this term, particularly since he served at the local government level as Mayor of Oakland, California, and is aware of the benefits and strengths of libraries.

Most assuredly, the legislature and the Governor-Elect will be operating under an “everything must be on the table” mentality as they examine their solutions for bringing the massive Budget deficit into correction. Wednesday’s forum sponsored by the Governor-Elect was a clear indication that he is taking a very serious approach to addressing the systemic problems inherent in the Budget. The Administration and the legislature’s task will be further challenged by the fact that Republicans in both houses have indicated they will not support tax increases, and the state has run out of many of its borrowing options. Thus, there is no doubt that major Budget reductions will need to be made in many popular programs, and candidly we are concerned about the vulnerability of the PLF, TBR, and literacy program funding.

Please take a moment today to write the Governor-Elect and encourage his support of protecting library funding during this difficult time. It is important to include in your letters specific information pertinent to your local libraries such as: [Tailor these to fit your own situation, please]

● County, city and special district libraries continue to be one of the hardest hit segments of local government. These libraries have had their funding reduced under Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger by over 72 percent. (PLF)
● Over the past years, many school districts have reduced or eliminated their teacher librarians or their school libraries. Public libraries then become the community’s lifeline for students and their families for important programs such as Homework Help centers, early learning programs, etc.
● Door counts continue to rise at an amazing rate for most libraries and library branches. In this difficult economy libraries are a safety net for many people who have lost their home or jobs and are using their local library to write resumes, attend workshops on credit repair, and utilize free access to high speed Internet to look for work.
● Libraries are the “great equalizer,” providing resources and materials to all types of patrons from all walks of life without the expectation of payment. To reduce or eliminate funding for the Public Library Foundation, Transaction Based Reimbursement, or literacy programs under the State Library, would have lasting reverberations for a statewide system that would have a difficult time ever recovering.

To send letters to the Governor-Elect, please address them to:

Governor-Elect Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Thank you for your help. Please send your letters ASAP.

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