Sacramento Scene: June 2021

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

The California State Constitution requires that the Governor submit a balanced budget proposal by January 10. This budget is based on the projected economic status of the state for the upcoming year.  By May 14, the Governor must submit a revised budget based on more current economic indicators. This revised budget is sometimes dubbed the “May Revise.” The Governor and state lawmakers (Senate and Assembly members) will spend the next several weeks negotiating the final spending plan for 2021-2022. The legislature must pass a budget by midnight of June 15, and the Governor must sign it by June 30.

This year’s May Revise is in stark contrast to last year’s plan. In 2020, the Governor announced cuts in almost all aspects of the state budget, including education, and specifically slashing CTE by 50% across the board. The 2021-2022 budget was bolstered by an enormous $75.7-billion-dollar surplus strengthened by federal dollars. California has expanded tax revenues from the state’s highest earners in addition to federal stimulus funding this year. 

Governor Newsom is quick to say that the majority of this is one-time dollars. It was proposed that K-12 education receive $61.3 billion in January; that number was bumped to $66.1 billion in May. Along the same lines, higher education (Community Colleges, UC, and CSU) was slated for $18.6 billion in January, increasing to $21.7 billion in the May revise.

The budget projects per-pupil spending for Proposition 98 at almost $14,000 per student, which funds both community college and K-12 schools. Additionally, the federal government will send an additional $15 billion to K-12 and an additional $2.3 billion to the community college system.

Newsom’s most recent budget proposal includes $12 billion in stimulus checks of $600 to California residents earning under $75,000 a year.

Other noteworthy conversations happening within California State Law include taxpayers getting rebates in significant surplus years like 2021, although the full details of this rebate will not be finalized for several years. On the political side, the California Secretary of State, Dr. Shirley Weber, has confirmed that enough valid signatures have been gathered to put a governor recall on the ballot.

CATA Conference 2021

The final stages of planning for the 2021 CATA Conference are in full swing. CATA has teamed with Jesse Eller and Marcus Hollan from Studio 5 – Learning and Development, Inc this year to put on the themed conference aptly named, “Zooming into a New Decade,” where they are working to bring all the aspects of a traditional CATA Conference to a virtual space for 2021. 

The conference will be held from June 21-24th with three guest speakers Greg Schwem, Scott Stump, and Jeff Eben  sharing their messages with conference attendees. We will honor the achievements of our members, conduct the business of the organization, engage in professional development, network, and socialize. 

Over 900 participants have already registered for the conference. Online registration is available at http://calagteachers.org

NAAE Region I 

Region I Vice President Eric Tilleman has been recently hospitalized with a complication from COVID-19. In addition to Eric’s NAAE leadership role, he is the Montana State Agricultural Education Supervisor. Mr. Tilleman is a regular at NAAE events and has done much to promote and support Ag education in both the Western United States and nationally alike. 

Recent updates to Eric’s condition have been posted on the family’s GoFundMe page. This is shared not as a solicitation of donations, but as a way to share information for those concerned. Click here to be directed to the GoFundMe page.

June Reflections 

For many individuals in our profession, June signifies completing a cycle in education and sparks reflection on the year gone by. No matter how optimistic and positive a person may be, this academic year has been a challenge like no other. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche coined the phrase, “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.” Perhaps that should be written in the yearbook of Zoom screenshots for the Class of 2021. It’s also a healthy way to reflect on the 2020-21 school year. Below are some of the good things we can all take with us from this year:

Value What We Have

We work in a tremendously fulfilling profession. We work with exceptional young people. We work with peers and co-workers that inspire us every day. This point became very clear at our local county fair. Despite the challenges of a new location and COVID-induced restrictions, it was the most positive and collectively supportive fair to date. Because of its absence, we were all reminded of the importance of community, togetherness, and a shared vision. 

Ag Teachers Need Each Other

There is a t-shirt in a drawer somewhere that reads, “You know an ag teacher across the state better than you know the English teacher across the hall.” We have a shared belief in the value of agricultural education for young people. We have shared experiences that no others in academia will ever understand. Coaching goat showmanship or teaching the correct usage of subsidiary motions are just a few examples. This comradery of shared experience was demonstrated at the in-person Superior Region meeting that occurred in May. People traveled from miles away to congregate and share stories. Hours after the end of the meeting, people were still visiting. CATA is a family, and we need each other.  

Struggle Leads to Growth

We have all had to adapt, change, and grow. This process was difficult and uncomfortable a lot of the time, but we are better for the experience. Tremendous creativity, resilience, and flexibility were used to bring the three-circle model to our students this year. Taking the advances and improvements forced upon us and mixing those with the tried-and-true traditions of the past will only improve our profession.  

Take some time this summer to recharge and reflect on the year. Reach out to the newbies in our profession and welcome them. Reach out to the retirees to thank them for their contributions to our profession and ask them for a nugget of wisdom. Above all, spend some time promoting your mental health. One thing is for certain, there will continue to be challenges next year. 

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/

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