Governor Newsom Takes Action on Key Education Bills As Deadline Nears
With only a few days left for Governor Gavin Newsom to consider legislation sent to him before the Legislature adjourned for the year, he took action on several significant education bills this week.
On Monday, October 7, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 48 (Chapter 530/2019), which will officially place a $15 billion K–16 school construction bond before voters on the March 2020 Primary Election ballot. The K–12 system would receive $9 billion while each of the higher education segments (California Community Colleges [CCC], California State University [CSU], and University of California [UC]) would receive $2 billion.
The Public Policy Institute of California’s September survey provided timely information about how the state’s voters view the school construction bond now set to appear before them in March. The survey found that 54% of likely voters support the measure, which is three percentage points lower than the April survey that showed 57% supported the bond. The initiative will need to be approved by a simple 50% plus 1 majority of voters to pass.
Governor Newsom also signed AB 963 (Chapter 559/2019) into law this week, which creates the Student Civic Engagement and Voter Empowerment Act requiring public university campuses to engage in civic engagement outreach efforts in partnership with the Secretary of State.
Governor Newsom also vetoed a bill that ACCCA has been following as it moved through the legislative process, AB 130 (Low, D-Silicon Valley). This is the bill that would have created the Higher Education Performance, Accountability and Coordination Commission as the state’s independent postsecondary education coordination and agency. Governor Newsom’s veto message highlights the newly formed Council for Post-Secondary Education and the investment to create the statewide longitudinal data system as reasons why he found the bill unnecessary.
Governor Newsom still needs to take action on a number of other significant higher education bills before midnight on Sunday, October 13, 2019, including the following that have implications for community colleges:
- AB 9 (Reyes, D-Grand Terrace) would extend the statute of limitations from one year to three years for all employment-related discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing
- AB 500 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego) would require school districts, charter schools, and community colleges to provide at least six weeks of full pay for pregnancy-related leaves of absence
- AB 1645 (Rubio, D-Baldwin Park) would require the CCC and CSU, and request the UC, to designate a Dreamer Resource Liaison on each of their respective campuses to assist students meeting specified requirements, including undocumented students
- SB 268 (Weiner, D-San Francisco) would authorize agencies pursuing a local tax or bond initiative to direct voters to the voter information guide for tax rate information rather than providing the information on the ballot statement
As Governor Newsom wraps up his first year of taking action on legislation, it’s important to note that the legislation he approves and his veto messages on the bills he doesn’t sign should help provide some clarity to his legislative priorities and principles, giving lawmakers and stakeholders a roadmap as to how to get his approval on legislation in future years.