New California State Budget Creates Controversy

A new California state budget means more money for schools, but the estimated budget surplus of more than $1 billion is causing some controversy over government accountability.

The more than$96 billion budget provides more money for education, including more than $2 billion towards school districts with high levels of low-income students.

Cynthia Weakley, an Otay Lakes resident who lost her job last week as a private school staff member says the surplus is good news.

“Hopefully it’s going to put more jobs back in the schools for those special programs, as well as for the teachers,” said Weakley.

The budget also approves a 5 percent increase for University of California and Cal-State systems, as well as scholarships for families earning less than $150,000.

“Kids are our future and education [is important]. If we’re going to compete in a global market, if we don’t have that education to support our future industries, we’re going to be left behind,” said Poway resident Dominic Kowalski.

But one provision in the Budget approved Friday is causing controversy.

The provision allows local agencies to control the manner in which they comply with the California Public Records Act which requires governments to respond to requests for records within 10 days.

The requests are used by investigative news teams, like NBC 7's I-Team, in getting specific information from government entities for public awareness.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle criticized the provision.

State senator Joel Anderson told NBC 7:

“The only protections taxpayers have is transparency. When you remove that, you have effectively made government unaccountable.”

NBC 7 reached out to seven local state legislators to ask if they supported the provision, and why. NBC 7 is still awaiting their response.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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