Senate Education Committee Approves AB 48 (O’Donnell)
Today the Senate Education Committee approved AB 48 (O’Donnell), which makes improvements to the School Facility Program (SFP) and places the Kindergarten-Community Colleges Public Education Facilities Bond Acts on the March 3, 2020 Primary and November 8, 2022 General elections. The final vote was 7-0.
Cathy Allen, Chief Operations Officer for Facility Support Services at the Sacramento Unified School District and former CASH Chair, testified on behalf of CASH and highlighted the need for the new resources and program improvements in AB 48, as well as the need to continue to improve access to the program for all districts going forward. We would like to thank Cathy for her excellent testimony and for representing CASH on this important issue for the organization.
In addition to this testimony, the Committee’s analysis listed 90 letters of support from school districts, county offices of education, state education organizations, labor organizations, developers, and businesses. Many of these organizations testified in support of AB 48, demonstrating the broad and deep coalition that supports the need for a state school bond. While making clear that they support the need for more facility funding and program improvements, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), League of Women Voters, Public Advocates, and the Advancement Project (also listed in support on the AB 48 analysis), advocated for the inclusion of intent language to address their assertion that school districts have historically had unequal access to Modernization funding, and urged the author to address the issue before the 2022 bond. Senator Durazo noted the strong coalition and her support but urged Assemblyman O’Donnell to address access to Modernization funding. There was no opposition.
In his close, Assemblyman O’Donnell stated that the Financial Hardship provisions in the SFP and that are included in AB 48 are designed to address unequal access to funding; that there is placeholder language in AB 48 to continue the discussion; and that he believed the unofficial proposals that have circulated would make the program less equitable.
CASH notes that there is broad concern that the state agencies have restricted and limited the access that was supposed to be provided through the Hardship statutes. CASH believes the Hardship provisions need to be interpreted to increase access rather than restrict access. We have not seen an alternative proposal that would work as well as Hardship reforms.
AB 48 will be heard next in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee in July.