SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced that $1.3 billion in expedited State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) will be available for California’s school districts, colleges and universities this year. In May, the U.S. Department of Education provided California $3.2 billion for the first phase of SFSF, 67 percent of California’s total $4.9 billion allocation, to help mitigate the effects of budget reductions to education. The second installment of SFSF funds were not scheduled to be released to states until December; however, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) permits states facing extreme budget difficulties to apply for 90 percent of funds during the first phase. Governor Schwarzenegger petitioned for 90 percent of the state’s total SFSF allocation on August 27 and the U.S. Department of Education has granted it.
“These funds play a critically important role in our efforts to continue supporting California’s students during this difficult economic time,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I made it clear that I would fight for every stimulus dollar possible for the people of California and I thank the Obama administration for quickly approving our application for these expedited funds, which will help bring relief to our students, schools and communities.”
Once these expedited funds are transferred into the state treasury, the Office of Planning and Research will allocate them to the California Department of Education, the California Community Colleges, the University of California and the California State University systems. When added to the funds allocated in May, K-12 school districts will have received a total of $2.9 billion in SFSF funds to backfill budget reductions made in the 2008-09 fiscal year; higher education will have received a total of $1.5 billion for the same purpose.
In order to ensure that California will receive the remaining 10 percent of its SFSF allocation, $488 million, Governor Schwarzenegger called a special legislative session and announced a legislative package that would expand the statewide data system to include the elements required by the Obama administration for the second phase of SFSF. Furthermore, the Governor’s legislative package does more than meet the bare minimum requirements to qualify for funding, it makes California highly competitive to receive hundreds of millions in competitive grant funding from the $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund, which is designed to support education innovation and reform.
Under Governor Schwarzenegger’s leadership, California was the first state in the nation to be federally approved for SFSF funds.