I received many e-mails from readers after my May post which outlined the risks to California’s public library funding in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, due to our state’s catastrophic financial situation. In January, Governor Jerry Brown had originally proposed the elimination of all state funding to public library programs, cuts that totalled $30.4 million and which put another $16 million in Federal funding in jeopardy. Through the efforts of the California Library Association and other organizations, the “May Revision” of Governor Brown’s State Budget plan restored $15.2 million in funding which would maintain the integrity of three critical library programs: the California Library Services Act, the California Library Literacy Services Program, and the Public Library Foundation. This level of funding would also protect the Federal funding.
However, on June 16th, Governor Brown surprised both Democrats and Republicans when he vetoed the revised State Budget plan (Plan B) that the Legislature had delivered to him by its June 15th deadline. This budget had also retained the $15.2 million in library funding. The veto put this money at risk again.
Legislators worked to craft another revised budget, Plan C, which they delivered to Governor Brown this week. It contains acutely painful cuts that will be felt across our entire state. On June 30, Governor Brown signed the State Budget, SB 87, one day before the start of California’s new fiscal year. The$15.2 million in library funding is retained. But there is a catch. The budget contains “trigger bills,” which allow for even deeper cuts to be made should it be determined by December 15th that state revenues are falling below the forecasted amount of $87,452,500,000. All public library funding will be eliminated as part of the Tier 1 reductions should these bills be triggered. In summary, critical library programs, and the citizens served by them remain at risk.
Last year, The San Francisco Public Library received $460,363 in state funding for the programs mentioned above. Even with its pending 2011-2012 fiscal year budget of $86+ million, this funding loss will have a tangible impact. However, the impact to smaller library systems, for instance in rural counties, will be catastrophic. For many, this state money is their only means of funding literacy and lending programs.
Let us hope that the small signs of economic recovery that we have seen in recent months across our state continue so that revenues hit the levels needed to ensure that no triggers are pulled.