AuthorShelly Tillery

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Senator Kevin de Leon Elected Next Leader of State Senate

The Senate just voted to elect Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) as the next Senate President pro Tem. The deal is that Senator Steinberg (D-Sacramento) will remain the leader through the end of the current legislative session and that Senator de Leon will take over sometime around November.

Senator de Leon has been the long-considered front runner to take over after Steinberg terms out of the Senate at the end of this year. However, the politics around his rise to leadership got a little murky as the Senate was embroiled in the political of fellow Senator Calderon (D-Montebello) as the FBI documents frequently named de Leon in the investigation – though did not claim he did anything illegal. Senate leadership dynamics grew murkier still as two additional Senators, unrelated to the Calderon scandal, were costumed by their own political scandals. The resulting loss of three Senators from the Democratic Caucus cast serious shadows over the current and future leadership of the State Senate. Today, the politics are clearer and Senator de Leon is set to become the first Latino leader of the Senate in modern times. He received warm and thoughtful comments from many colleagues from both parties before the floor vote.

Senator de Leon has as strong background in education. He previously served in the State Assembly and worked for the California Teachers Association (CTA) where he served as an organizer. He also worked for the National Education Association (NEA) in Washington DC. Kevin was the author and driving force behind Proposition 39, the energy efficiency funds that are available to K-12 schools. Having lived in Santa Barbara prior to being elected to state office, he even walked precincts to help elect Jack O’Connell.

Senator de Leon was elected by unanimous voice vote of the entire Senate. He is able to serve as the Senate leader until he is termed out of the Senate in 2018. We look forward to working with him.

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SSDA Update – 2014-15 May Revision

The May Revision had many losers and only a few winners. In general, the winners were MediCal, educator pensions in CalSTRS, and the rainy day fund. The losers in general were the advocates for program expansions or restorations. This situation is partially created by the administration’s belief that there will not be a lot of new on-going money (predicting an additional $5 billion, rather than about $2.4 billion, would not have been unreasonable) which limits the options. If the administration is incorrect and most of the money is ongoing instead of one-time, then that money will show up after the November election and could be part of the 2015-16 budget for further wall-of-debt payments. The lower revenue estimates worked well for the administration last year and it appears they will use the same playbook this year.

For K-14 education, the most significant proposal was for CalSTRS full funding in slightly more than 30 years. While I have not seen the language to know how schools will be expected to pay for the contribution increases, (see attachment for contribution rate increases schedule), the question of “How?” is the overarching issue – will school employers pay for the contributions with new funds received outside of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), from the funds expected to be received through the current LCFF levels, or will there be adjustments to the LCFF?

The Small School Districts Association (SSDA) raised the CalSTRS contribution increase concern during the debates last year on the LCFF. SSDA argued then and will argue now that the employer contribution increases should be funded with a new average per daily attendance allocation outside of the LCFF. Every district will be affected by the contribution rate increase. Therefore, every district should receive the same per ADA funding to address the increase.

If the current LCFF allocation is expected to be used to fund the increase, then the expectation that the basic grant and the Economic Recovery Target would allow districts to restore programs to the 2007-08 level will be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish. Additionally, the intent that the new supplemental grant and concentration grant funds should be  dedicated for new services also will be difficult to accomplish if at least 20%, and possibly 25%, of all new funds will be for CalSTRS unfunded obligation rather than additional services.

SSDA should support CalSTRS full funding. The issue is not a question of paying our debts and paying for our pensions; the issue is what is the most equitable way to fund those costs without a reduction in the improved services that were expected from the LCFF.

Governors Long Term CalSTRS Plan

-David Walrath

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Southern California Regional

This meeting will be held at:

The Radisson Hotel

11520 West Bernardo Court

San Diego, CA 9212

SSDA has secured a limited number of rooms at the Radisson Hotel at the rate of $98 for the night of Thursday, October 9, 2014 (check-in at the hotel is at 3:00 p.m.).  Please call the Radisson Hotel at  (858) 451-6600 before Friday, August 8, 2014 to receive a reduced room rate and be sure to mention SSDA during your call.

District and COE Regional Registration

AGENDA - to be posted shortly

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