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May 15, 2007
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Hema Sareen Mohan at (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) today expressed “deep concern” about the $366 million missing for low-wealth schools in Governor Schwarzenegger’s May Revision to the 2007-08 budget, which was released yesterday.
Last year, the California Legislature passed a budget that set aside $350 million in additional funding for the state’s low-wealth public schools.  Known as ‘equalization’ funding, the funds are meant to provide much needed resources to historically under-funded schools in California.  The Governor’s “May Revise” did not include the estimated $366 million (adjusted for cost of living) for low-wealth schools next year. 
“I’ve got to believe this is just a simple but immense mistake,” said Simitian.  “To his credit, the Governor proposed substantial equalization funding last year, and worked with me and other equalization advocates to make sure the money was in the budget on an ongoing basis.  And again this year, in January, the money was in the Governor’s proposed budget.  Now all of a sudden, the money’s gone.”
In 2001, his first year in the Legislature, Simitian authored AB 441, the “Fairness in Education Funding Act,” which allocated money for equalization funding and called on the state to steadily improve funding for low wealth school districts, and to achieve substantial equalization by 2006-07. 
The equalization effort became an annual exercise, with steady progress.  Finally, last year, Simitian introduced SB 1358, a bipartisan measure which he jointly coauthored with State Senator George Runner (R-Antelope Valley) to establish a formula for targeting funds to low-wealth, under-funded school districts across California. 
Simitian’s SB 1358 was eventually folded into provisions for what became the 2006-07 budget, which included $350 million annually to low-wealth school districts.  “We had an agreement to help ‘level up’ low-wealth school districts,” noted Simitian.  “The Governor’s May Revise is inconsistent with that promise.”

“My hope,” said Simitian, “is that the Governor will simply acknowledge the error and restore funding.  Equally important, it would be helpful if the Administration would indicate the program reductions or new revenues we can use to replace the missing funds.”

“This is a real stunner for our low-wealth school districts.  Look, every kid deserves a fair shake.  This is a fundamental question of fairness,” said Simitian.  “Disparities in funding mean disparities in opportunities for student success.”
Simitian, a former local school board member, is a member of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education.  He chairs the Senate Select Committee on California’s Master Plan for Education. 



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