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California would invest more than $100 billion into its public school system under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised state budget proposal, expanding behavioral health services and access to pre-kindergarten, Newsom said Wednesday.
The funding plan includes an additional $20 billion on top of the $85.8 billion in Newsom’s initial budget proposal from January, which the governor said at that time was the largest investment in education in the state’s history.
The $20 billion — part of a $100 billion spending plan that Newsom has dubbed the California Comeback Plan — would make pre-kindergarten available to every 4-year-old in the state and create thousands of so-called “community schools” that offer mental health and social services to both students and their families.
“We are looking to transform, not go back to where we were, but to transform our educational system,” Newsom said of the education spending in his budget proposal.
Some of the money, like that for in-school behavioral and mental health services, will be spent over the next five years, Newsom said.
Under the funding plan, the state would make $3.3 billion available to train and support the additional teachers needed to expand the availability of pre-kindergarten and cut the ratio of pre-K students to teachers from 24-to-one to 12-to-one.
“We are looking to transform, not go back to where we were, but to transform our educational system.”Gov. Gavin Newsom
The funding plan also includes $2 billion to open personal savings accounts for some 3.7 million low-income, foster, homeless and English-learning youth.
The savings accounts would be seeded with $500 base deposits and could eventually be used to help pay for college or start a business, Newsom said during a briefing at Elkhorn Elementary School in Castroville.
Newsom argued that conversations about income inequality do not focus enough on the issue of wealth inequality and that low-income families do not have the proper access to owning assets or even the ability to contribute to a savings account.
“Our children are going to need more beyond the K-12 or even TK-12 experience,” Newsom said. “We’re poised to do something that the academics have been promoting for decades and that researchers have said is one of the best investments in breaking the cycle of poverty.”
Newsom is expected to unveil the full revised budget proposal on Friday.
Newsom and the state Legislature will then have until June 15 to approve the budget before the new fiscal year begins on July 1.