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AdvocacyPublic, legislative and legal advocacy

PUBLISHED September 2015
UPDATED November 2016

CSBA v. State of California - Sacramento County Superior Court

On September 22, the CSBA's ELA filed a lawsuit against the State of California over the unconstitutional manipulation of the Proposition 98 guarantee.

Proposition 98 was approved by voters in 1988 to ensure a guaranteed minimum spending level each year for K-12 public schools and community college districts by providing them with a stable and predictable source of funding that grows with the economy and state General Fund revenues.

State spending on childcare has historically been included within the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee funding. In 2011, however, the State moved most of the funding for childcare outside of Proposition 98 for state budget purposes. In making this change, the State readjusted or "rebenched" the minimum guarantee to reflect the removal of childcare from within Proposition 98.

In the current 2015-16 budget, the State added some childcare spending (approximately $145 million) back into Proposition 98, but did not rebench the minimum guarantee calculation higher to reflect this additional expense. CSBA's lawsuit alleges that the State's failure to rebench, which would have increased the minimum guarantee, is an unconstitutional manipulation of Proposition 98.

The court’s ruling is extremely important for the interpretation of Proposition 98, as it requires the state to interpret the measure consistently from year to year. The court has precluded the State from manipulating the minimum guarantee simply by defining certain costs as in or out of the calculations. The State is expected to appeal the decision. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of CSBA's ELA by Olson Hagel & Fishburn LLP in Sacramento County Superior Court.