Unanimous Bipartisan Support in 2 Committees, Although Cost Still a Concern <br>
SACRAMENTO-Yesterday two committees of the California State Legislature passed a measure to allocate $5 million to establish and evaluate after-school programs for high school students. Two identical bills, one in the Senate and one in the Assembly, passed the Education Committees with unanimous bipartisan support.
Those who spoke in favor of SB 1478 (authored by Republican Bruce McPherson of Santa Cruz) and AB 1984 (authored by Democrat Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento) included students and school administrators from successful high school programs that face cuts when federal pilot dollars dry up. Law enforcement representatives also spoke in support of the bills. Captain Ernie Daniels of the Sacramento Police Department testified on behalf of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and its 250-strong membership of district attorneys and law enforcement leaders throughout California.
"After-school programs are the proven, most effective way to prevent drug or alcohol problems among high-risk youth," said Glenn Backes, health policy director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Concerns about funding for the programs still linger, Backes said. Governor Gray Davis committed $45 million to an expansion of after-school programs in his January budget. Proponents of the bill have asked that $5 million of that be earmarked for high school programs. However, considering the projected budget deficit of $20 billion, the Governor may be forced to cut even these popular programs when he submits his new budget in May.
The bills will be sent to their respective appropriations committees for consideration, where their success is uncertain. If they pass the fiscal test in appropriations, the bills will be sent to the Senate and Assembly floor for votes of the full legislature.