The California Association of Museums (CAM) has an active advocacy program that monitors legislation and fosters strategic initiatives to support funding sources for museums. The following is a monthly update to keep our members and constituents informed and involved in State affairs.
BUDGET TRIGGERS LIKELY DUE TO DISMAL BUDGET NUMBERS
Three months ago Governor Jerry Brown signed a budget with an optimistic assumption that California would receive $4 billion in extra revenue, thus balancing the budget. Will Governor Brown pull the fiscal trigger required if revenue falls short of expectations? Currently, revenue is over $700 million short, and a decision must be reached by December 15. The Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst’s Office will begin preparing an economic forecast late this month. If the shortfall is more that $1 billion, $601 million in reductions will be necessary falling mostly on state university systems and in-home care and services to the developmentally disabled. If the shortfall is greater that $2 billion, additional cuts will be made to public education: the school year will be seven days shorter and school transportation will lose almost $250 million in cuts. Most of those in the know say it’s too early to know if trigger-pulling will be necessary as most tax revenue is received during the last six months of the year. The Department of Finance publishes a monthly Finance Bulletin. October’s bulletin will be posted online sometime this week and will include the monthly cash report for September and what this may mean for the state.
GOVERNOR BROWN ACTS ON HUNDREDS OF BILLS WITH HIS PEN AND HIS VOICE!
The Governor had until midnight October 9th to act on almost 600 bills on his desk. Governor Brown became famous in the last month for his crisp signing and veto messages accompanying many bills, peppered with humor and sarcasm at times.(For an example of this, see the message that accompanied his signing of SB 769 Mountain lions: display or exhibition.) It had been rumored he would veto the majority of bills because of our budget situation. However, in the final analysis, that did not come to pass. For example, the prior Governor vetoed approximately 25% of the bills in his last year. Governor Brown only vetoed around 17% of the bills this session (97 of 563 bills). For the year, the governor has vetoed 128 of 889 bills, only 14.3%. Interestingly, the governor’s veto is only slightly above the historical average of 13.8% vetoed since 1967.
Below is a recap of some of the key bills CAM followed closely. This is the first of a two year session, and bills held over in the Legislature are active in the next year and are still viable to move to the governor in 2012 along with many new bills that can be introduced.
END OF SESSION BILL ROUNDUP
SB 547 Public School Performance Accountability was introduced by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), President Pro Tempore of the Senate. In its current form SB 547 would require the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop an Education Quality Index (EQI) to replace the Academic Performance Index (API). The EQI would go into effect with the 2013-14 school year and would require the Superintendent to report specified information relating to the creation of additional indices beginning July 2014. It would also require the Superintendent to report on the effectiveness and reliability of the EQI and any changes needed for improvement. Concepts from SB 789, a bill supported by CAM and which would have created a Creativity and Innovation Index, will be incorporated into this bill. Amendments to SB 547 have been crafted to create an advisory committee to develop and recommend additional indices to reflect other elements of school quality which include creativity and innovation. Thus, the creative index model described in SB 789 lives on in the new SB 547 through persistence and vigilance. SB 789, currently held in the Senate Appropriations Committee, is expected to come up for a vote by the committee this coming January. Status: Governor Brown vetoed this bill on October 8, 2011, including a veto message.
SB 769Mountain lions: display or exhibitionwas introduced by Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) and co-authored by Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael). This bill is designed to provide an exemption for the possession of a mountain lion carcass if it is prepared for display for a bona fide scientific or education purpose at a nonprofit or government-owned museum or at an educational institution. CAM requested amendments which were adopted by the author to clarify that possession of a mountain lion carcass in collections and storage is also appropriate. CAM submitted a letter of support to the Legislature after these amendments were adopted on June 30, 2011. Status: Governor Brown signed this bill on September 30 and included a signing message.
AB 165 Pupil fees was introduced by Assemblymember Ricardo Lara (D-South Gate). This bill was designed to reinforce the constitutional prohibition of imposing pupil fees on educational activities (including extracurricular activities such as field trips) in the state’s schools. Schools are still allowed to raise funds and collect donations to support athletics and other extracurricular activities. Museums were monitoring this bill because of its possible impact on after-school programs, field trips and other extracurricular activities. Status: Governor Brown vetoed this bill on October 8, including a veto message.
PARKS LEGISLATION GETS MIXED REVIEW FROM THE GOVERNOR
All three bills designed to keep California state parks open to the public were on the governor’s desk for action: SB 356 (Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo), requiring the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to enter into operating agreements with willing counties or cities for the operation of parks that are proposed to be closed, SB 386 (Harman, R-Huntington Beach), requiring DPR to use its website to post the information on parks intended to be closed with DPR contact information for any organization who may be interested in keeping a park open, and AB 42 (Huffman, D-San Rafael) allowing DPR to enter into operating agreements with nonprofit organizations. Although CAM did not taken positions on these bills, we communicated our concern to the Legislature about drastic cuts to California state parks. The Governor vetoed SB 386 on September 21 and included a veto message. He also vetoed SB 356. He signed AB 42.
JUNE VOTE ON BALLOT MEASURES ELIMINATED - MAJOR SHIFT IN VOTER BALLOT INITIATIVES
SB 202, introduced by Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), would require voter-circulated ballot measures to appear only on ballots for the November general election every two years and in Governor-called statewide special elections. Previously these measures could appear in June primary election ballots. This bill would delay a vote on a constitutional amendment designed to create a stronger rainy day fund reserve for the state. The bipartisan legislative leadership had agreed to this amendment as part of 2010 budget negotiations. The governor signed this bill on October 7 and included a signing message.
NON-PROFIT "SOCIAL ENTERPRISE" GAINS GROUND
AB 361 (Huffman) Benefit corporations (B Corporations), AB 1211 (Silva) Not-for-profit corporations, and SB 201 (DeSaulnier) Flexible purpose corporations have all been signed by Governor Brown. These bills are intended to stimulate the creation of entities that will help California’s communities care for the social, cultural and environmental concerns of its citizens.
STATUS QUO FOR LIBRARIES MAINTAINED
AB 438, introduced by Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara), would cause local governments to find it harder to forge contracts with private companies to run their libraries. This bill would require governments to post multiple public hearing notices, complete a study of cost savings, conduct open bidding, and assure that current employees lose neither their pay nor their benefits. This bill was signed by the governor of October 8.
SHOVEL-READY PROJECTS ACCELERATED WITH CEQA CHANGES
AB 900, introduced by Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-San Ramon), makes changes in the California Environmental Quality Act which includes streamlining new capital improvement projects over $100 million which will create high wage jobs so long as there is no additional emission of greenhouse gases. Governor Brown signed this bill on September 27.
The governor is interested in hearing of other projects (shovel ready) that can take advantage of an accelerated CEQA process. They will be meeting with key stakeholders in the months ahead and inviting suggestions for additional urgency legislation that could be passed early in the 2012 session.
WATER BOND WATCH
The November 2012 ballot currently will include a vote on an $11.1 billion bond package for dam-building (on the San Joaquin River near Fresno) and water conservation. At this point there is political speculation about whether the voters will approve a water bond during the current economic downturn, especially when the drought which occasioned this water bond appears to be a thing of the past. Changes to the water bond in terms and amount require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature and those who negotiated the original terms are no longer involved. We will watch carefully as this and other potential bonds gain traction.
AMAZON SALES TAX - ORIGINAL STATUTE UNDERGOES NEW AGREEMENT
Governor Brown has signed AB 155 on September 23, a bill introduced by Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon that will require Amazon (and other retailers) to pay California sales tax. As mentioned last month, as part of a compromise, Amazon also plans to open a large distribution center and other facilities that are expected to create 10,000 jobs in the state. Online sales taxes will be collected beginning on September 15, 2012. This is the second bill signed by the governor (ABX1 28) that was proposed in the legislature to deal with out-of-state retailers (such as Amazon) and their failure to collect California sales tax on consumer purchases.
LEGISLATORS SPOTTED AT CALIFORNIA MUSEUMS
Do you have an exhibit opening soon? Are you hosting a popular public program? We encourage you to invite an Assembly Member or Senator to the event to demonstrate that museums matter. CAM continues to communicate with legislators to convey how museums benefit California’s citizens. But only the museums we serve can reinforce these messages with first-hand experiences that demonstrate the impact on a legislator’s district. Send CAM a photograph of your legislator at your museum and tell us about the visit, what was discussed, and other details. We will add it to our growing photo album and share it with your California colleagues. Send your photo and story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMING IN FUTURE LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
Where Are We with the Budget Triggers?
The Realities of the Budget Choices
Next Steps in the Legislature for the Upcoming Election Year
-- Submitted by Kathryn Lynch and Celeste DeWald