Thursday, October 22, 2009

ASES Weekend Programs Bill AB 983 Dies in Committee

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ASES Weekend Programs Bill AB 983 Dies in Committee


What a long, strange trip it was for Assembly Bill 983 that died in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner authored the bill in February 2009 to help school districts use their After School Education and Safety program (ASES) grant to run programs on weekends as well as during the weekdays.

Many school districts that receive this funding have trouble using all the funding with after school weekday programming. Since many of these schools are located in neighborhoods where a weekend program would help keep kids out of trouble, it was a logical and cost-free solution.


But, not all of the Senators agreed that it was cost free because school districts that didn’t use their ASES funding had to return the unused dollars back to the state budget. The Senators labeled it a “cost pressure bill” because schools would use more of the money already granted leaving less to return to the state budget.

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill the year before because in his opinion weekends didn’t fit the intent of the Prop 49 original legislation (that created ASES). In my experience, weekends typically do begin after school lets out on Friday...


After passing successfully through the Assembly, and the Senate Education Committee, AB 983 died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.


But the odyssey of AB 983 didn’t end there. Assemblywoman Skinner was suddenly pressed into action to author a recycling bill that would have added a redemption value to currently un-taxed beverage containers over 16 oz. in size including juice containers. So the education language was stripped out of AB 983 and an attempt was made to reuse the bill as a vehicle with an entirely new purpose.


This process failed and the “bottle” bill was re-authored and submitted as Senate Bill 402 passing both the Assembly and Senate, and subsequently vetoed by the Governor. Governor Schwarzenegger in his veto cited the bill placed too much burden on citizens already suffering in the bad economy and that the existing retainer fee fund has made large loans to the General Fund leaving no money to expand the program at this time.


Bottom line is that AB 983 failed to pass in any form and ASES grant recipients still cannot use the grant money for weekend programs. But, for what it’s worth, they can still buy large bottles of juice without a container redemption fee.

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