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Education Coalition To Lawmakers: Hands Off Prop 98 Dollars

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Representatives of education advocacy groups - including the California Teachers Association and the California School Boards Association - pose for a photo after a news conference Monday in Sacramento.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Teachers, school boards and other education groups have a message for Governor Jerry Brown and California lawmakers: Leave our money alone.

There’s a new buzz phrase making the rounds at the state Capitol these days: 98 Envy.

“98” as in Proposition 98, California’s constitutional school funding guarantee that will absorb nearly all of this year’s surge in state budget revenues.

And “Envy” as in, everyone else wishes they had even some of that money.

Some lawmakers, like Democratic Senator Holly Mitchell, want to pay for child care programs out of Prop 98. That’s legal, and it’s been done in the past.

“There’s no question in my mind – or anyone else’s, quite frankly – that what we’re talking about, early care and education, is indeed education,” Mitchell told Capital Public Radio last week.

But school groups say that could eventually take money out of the classroom.

“You have the same amount of money with more students to educate or to care for, because child care is not necessarily an education program,” Estelle Lemieux with the California Teachers Association told reporters at an "Education Coalition" media briefing Monday.

We’ll see what Governor Brown wants to do later this week when he releases his updated budget proposal.