March 24, 2018

With Mid-Year Cut, California Reduces State Funding for Libraries to Zero

California Governor Jerry Brown announced Tuesday a mid-year, $16 million cut to state library funding, which essentially eliminates all remaining state funding for the California Library Services Act (CLSA), the California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Service, and the Public Library Foundation (PLF). Last year the programs received $30.4 million.

The budget Brown first proposed in January called for this very scenario: the elimination of all state funding for library programs. But the legislature and Brown compromised and agreed to a budget, signed June 30, that cut funding 50 percent. But now even that money is gone, as California, with its zero funding, has topped Texas, where Governor Rick Perry and the legislature in July cut state funding for library services by 88 percent.

“In terms of next steps, we will wait for the governor’s presentation of the January budget and then we will then need to begin the arduous process of trying to build funding back in to the 2012-13 budget for libraries,” Mike Dillon and Christina DiCaro, lobbyists for the California Library Association, said on the California Library Association (CLA) website.

The budget passed in June had a “trigger” amendment (AB 121, Statutes of 2011) which necessitated these further cuts if $4 billion in anticipated state revenues did not materialize. The California Department of Finance reported Tuesday that the state is $2.2 billion short of the $86.2 billion revenue target. As a result, $1 billion in all is being cut from state programs effective January 1, 2012, including the library money.

Within the CLSA are the state’s eight Cooperative Library Systems (map here) as well as Transaction-Based Reimbursement (TBR), which together provide the infrastructure and the funding mechanism that permit the state’s public libraries to provide services, such as interlibrary loans (ILL) or reference, across jurisdictions to any state resident bearing a library card.

Stacey Aldrich, the state librarian, and others have expressed concerns about the impact of these cuts on resource sharing and the cooperative, regional networks that librarians in California have built up over the past 30 years. Aldrich told LJ back in June: “”My larger concern is equal access around the state. If we don’t have any funding and local libraries are having issues in terms of having enough money to support their users, I’m concerned about the fracturing of equal access.”

As part of the same automatic cuts affecting the libraries, state funding support for the California State University and the University of California systems will each be cut by an additional $100 million for this year, on top of a $650 million reduction already in place. The additional cut reduces CSU funding to $2 billion and represents a 27 percent year-to-year reduction in state support, according to a university statement. These additional reductions will undoubtedly ripple through the schools’ library systems, which have already been struggling with budgets cuts.

And worse may still come. According to a summary from CLA, Brown said that his FY13 budget, which will be released January 10, will include more cuts and also anticipates $7 billion in revenues that are predicated on a tax initiative on the November 2012 ballot. The initiative calls for a five-year half-cent sales tax increase as well as an income tax increase on people who earn more than $250,000 a year. If the voters reject the initiative, another trigger will be pulled.

Michael Kelley About Michael Kelley

Michael Kelley ( is the former Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal.