The 2019-2020 Budget has been approved by the California Assembly and its vote in the Senate awaits action this Monday. The big news for CCUPCA is that this budget contains $5 million for funding and infrastructure to our sponsored bill. Assembly Bill 1499 was converted into a direct budget allocation that, upon approval, will effectively enact AB 1499 into law.
As a reminder, AB 1499 created a grant program in the Office of Emergency Service to make emergency interoperability system funding available to K-12 public schools, junior colleges, CSU campuses. The insertion into the state budget bypasses Legislative steps and enacts the program upon signing of the budget.
Our successful efforts for budget inclusion serve to underscore CCUPCA’s expertise and commitment in connection with active shooter issues. The budget process at the Capitol is similar to the Legislative process. They both involve public hearings on its elements. They differ in that the deliberations are virtually all behind the scene decision, without any public votes.
The bill-turned-budget-proposal was presented in the Assembly Budget Sub-Committee in charge of public safety issues, as well as in the Senate Sub-Committee. After the hearing we were informed that both sub-committees were inclined to support our proposal, the Assembly sub-committee with enthusiasm.
On the Senate side, we were told the staff of that sub-committee was skeptical of the proposal. A process of behind the scenes beseeching – all in direct discussions with Legislators and key budget staff – continued for two weeks. Finally, the Budget Conference Committee came out with its final list of items to go into the budget.
The final list included our budget request, which the Budget Conference Committee approved by a unanimous vote. The State Assembly acted last week, and the State Senate is due to act on Monday. The entire budget is slated to go to Governor Newsom around the middle of the week.
Places of education are disproportionately targets of active shootings. Our messages about this tragic reality have resonated with Capitol policy makers.
As readers here know, in 2018 an active shooter incident took place on a college/university campus once every eight days. Active shooter incidents on K-12 campuses took place once every five days. California, Texas and Florida have the dubious distinction of being the top three states in the country with the most incidents of this kind.
Readers may recall that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission report to the Governor of Florida stated the need for school districts and first responders to strive for inter-linking communication services. This is also known as interoperability. It was a lack of interoperability that exponentially magnified the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS. First responders did not receive real time communication from the school site. In fact, the shooter had already left the campus by the time first responders were able to arrive.
According to the Public Safety Communication Act of 2002, the Public Safety Radio Strategic Planning Committee has primary responsibility to develop and implement statewide integrated public safety communication systems that facilitate interoperability among state public safety departments and first response agencies. However, efforts have not been made to expand interoperability services to include California educational systems.
Our suggested remedy, originally embodied in AB 1499, is now in the budget and on the threshold of enactment.
California is a state that gives the Governor line-item veto authority so approval by the Senate is not our final step. We will be spending the upcoming week working with the Governor’s office to secure its ultimate inclusion in the state budget.