by Martha Zaragoza-Díaz, CABE Lobbyist
California legislators returned to the State Capitol on January 4th to begin the next two-year legislative cycle.
Democrats now hold supermajorities in both the Senate and the Assembly, allowing them to pass bills without the need for support from Republican members. Legislators now have up to 12 years to serve under new term limit laws, allowing them to obtain experience and expertise in the legislative and budget processes
The Legislature is already at work. Senator Kevin de Leon continues serving as the President pro Tempore of the Senate and Assembly Member Anthony Rendon continues to serve as Speaker of the Assembly. Appointments to committees have been made by the Senate President pro Tempore. Senator Ben Allen (D Santa Monica) is the new chairperson of the Senate Education Committee and Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell continues to be chairperson of the Assembly Education Committee.
We will need to keep an eye on Washington at the same time we are keeping an eye on Sacramento this year to determine whether there will be conflict or agreement on significant education policy issues, such as school choice and vouchers.
Specific education policy issues facing the Legislature in 2017 will continue to be: addressing the teacher shortage issues, special education (proposed shifting funding from regional centers directly to districts under the LCFF), school construction bonds (addressing the issue of inequitable distribution of funding) and Early Education (proposals to expand free or subsidized preschool to all low-income children).
The State Budget may become another source of controversy in light of the fact that what is decided in Washington (such as the repeal of Obama Care) may have a significant fiscal impact on California regarding the level of federal funds it may receive compounded by any change in revenues received by California. The Governor is expected to include low-ball economic forecasts when he submits his proposed 2017-2018 state budget.
Legislative leaders have already stated they will “lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric of our Constitution” and Governor Brown vows to fight President Elect Trump on climate change.
It is unclear as to how to predict what will happen under the Trump administration because President Elect Trump has no governing track record, he has made contradictory statements and tweets on specific policies and his appointments to the various cabinet positions have been surprising to some extent.
So the Governor, the Legislature and the public need to prepare for “unpredictability” as much as possible.