Flickr photo by Paraflyer
The fate of $37 million in federal stimulus funds that have been sitting for nearly a year could be delayed even further if the 2010-11 budget talks between the Legislature and the governor turns sour.
According to Los Angeles Times, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has threatened to leave office in January 2011 without signing the budget if the Legislature doesn't cut back on public-pension payouts and make other reforms. According to the Times, Schwarzenegger told reporters after an event at the LA Chamber of Commerce:
If I do not get all of the things that we need … I will not sign a budget, and it could actually drag out until the next governor gets into office.
Senate President Pro Tem Darryl Steinberg, D-Sacramento, immediately signaled that it was the governor who needed to quit insisting on corporate giveaways in the budget. The net effect? Millions in education stimulus, along with the other state money, will be held up as long as the standoff persists.
Last week, we wrote about a $71 million-education-technology-stimulus award that has been sitting unused since July 2009 because of wrangling among state education, finance and legislative officials. Earlier this month, it was announced that half of the stimulus - $34 million - could be dispersed to about 1,063 districts and charter schools. But instead of loosing the other $37 million, lawmakers decided to continue mulling over how best to spend it, as part of their 2010-2011 budget deliberations.
And with the governor and the Legislature now digging in on the budget, the possibility looms that their perennial bureaucratic food fight may ultimately keep much-desired funds from schools with dire needs.
For more info on the stall, see the short timeline and legislative documents below.
Timeline of Stimulus Stall
July 24, 2009: California Department of Education learns the state will receive $71 million in federal stimulus funding as part of the Enhancing Education Through Technology program (EETT).
Aug. 6, 2009: Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell issues advisory to districts stating: "CDE will distribute the funds by the end of the year to school districts in two ways: half determined by formula and half through grants." State law requires legislative approval first, however.
Aug. 31, 2009: By letter, California Department of Education officials tell the Department of Finance of the $71 million stimulus received from the U.S. Department of Education.
Sept. 11, 2009: State education officials mail "Requests for Applications" to school districts, charter schools and county offices of education, describing what must be done to qualify for the money with a deadline of Oct. 15. The one-time funds must be spent by Sept. 30, 2011.
Oct. 15, 2009: State education officials reportedly receive 188 applications.
Oct. 16, 2009: Joint legislative budget committee receives letter from Department of Finance requesting permission to give Education the OK to spend the stimulus.
Nov. 12, 2009: Denise Moreno Ducheny, chair of joint legislative budget committee, sends letter to state finance officials rejecting the request. Ducheny directs education officials to work with finance and the Legislature to revise their stimulus-expenditure plan.
April 2010: Department of Education releases revised stimulus-spending plan.
May 27-28 2010: Assembly and Senate committees agree on releasing $34 million to school districts based upon state education plan. Other $37 million to be decided later.
July 16, 2010: Department of Education sends out press release announcing $34 million stimulus awards.