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Bad News for Libraries in California

We just received some very bad news regarding the governor’s 2011-2012 budget.  State funding for libraries and literacy would be eliminated.  Very depressing…you can read all the gory details below:

Proposal Would Eliminate All State Funding for PLF, TBR and Literacy
This morning newly elected Governor, Jerry Brown, released his 2011-12 Budget proposal, calling it “painful” and one that “requires sacrifice from every sector of the state, but we have no choice.”  The plan recommends a whopping $12.5 billion in cuts and $12 billion in revenue options in order to address the staggering $25 billion Budget, as well as a “vast and historic restructuring of services,” as part of the Governor’s realignment proposal.  Of the cuts revealed- by Governor Brown today is a proposal to completely eliminate all state funding for the Public Library Foundation, Transaction Based Reimbursement and the California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Service.  This amount totals $30.4 million.  ($12.9 million cut to the PLF, $12.9 million cut to the $12.9 TBR and a $4.6 million cut to the literacy program).   Specifically, the Governor’s Budget reads as follows:
“The Governor’s Budget proposes to decrease General Fund assistance for local libraries by $30.4 million in FY 2011-12, resulting in the elimination of General Fund for the following programs:  Public Library Foundation, California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Services, and the California Library Services Act.  With the exception of some limited local assistance for library development and civil liberties programs, the ability of the state to provide General Fund local assistance to the California State Library is hampered by the economic conditions of the state.  Despite these reductions, the California State Library will continue to preserve California’s history and cultural heritage, and will continue to share its collection of historic documents with the citizens of California.”
You will recall from our recent alert to the field that the legislature and the lobbying corps were preparing for a “shock and awe” Budget, with the Governor pledging that no industry or program area would be spared from deep cuts.  In fact, the Budget axe falls dramatically on Medi-Cal ($1.7 billion cut), CalWORKs ($1.5 billion), Department of Developmental Services ($750 million), and a $500 million cut to the California State University and $500 million cut to the University of California.  The proposal also would require a 10 percent reduction “in take-home pay for state employees not currently covered under collective bargaining agreements.”  Of note, the Governor expects the legislature to act on these proposed cuts – including the library related cuts – in the next few months.
As we referenced in our last alert, the Governor’s plan also centers around a large-scale realignment of state and local government services, with the first phase of the realignment to be funded from revenue from a combination of the sales tax and vehicle license fee tax extensions.  The revenue extensions/solutions referenced above would need to be agreed to by the legislature no later than March so that the sweeping proposal could be placed to the voters for consideration on the June 2011 ballot.  As best we understand the Governor’s plan, the $30 million cut to the library programs would not be backfilled with the Governor’s ballot revenue proposal.  Instead, those revenues would be used to prevent additional cuts to K-12 education funding and other programs, and to begin the phase-in of the Governor’s realignment proposal.  The first phase of realignment focuses on public safety services, the second phase focuses on the implementation of the federal health care initiative, and under the Governor’s plan, redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones would also be eliminated.
Phase two of the plan recommends a “constitutional amendment to provide for 55% voter approval for limited tax increases and bonding against local revenues for development projects similar to those currently funded through redevelopment and for infrastructure.”  In response to reporters’ questions about what happens if the voters refuse to allow extension of the current taxes for an additional 5 years, the Governor responded that there would have to be further significant cuts to “schools, prisons, and the universities.”
The CLA Legislative and Advocacy Committee will be meeting next Friday to discuss messaging and strategic responses to address the Governor’s Budget released today, and soon we will be providing you with additional contact information and talking points.  In the meantime, please take a moment to contact your Assemblymember and Senator and express your concerns over these devastating cuts to the Public Library Foundation, Transaction Based Reimbursement and Literacy programs.  Urge them to reject these cuts when the issue is before them in the coming weeks.

If you’ve ever thought about speaking up in support of your library and literacy now would be the time to do it.
Posted by Jody Meza, City Librarian