Facing resistance at the Capitol to his proposal to overhaul California's school financing formula and to shift more money to poor and English-learning students, Gov. Jerry Brown said today he considers the matter one of civil rights and will give opponents "the battle of their lives."
"This is a matter of equity and civil rights," the Democratic governor told reporters at the Capitol. "So if people are going to fight it, they're going to get the battle of their lives, because I'm not going to give up until the last hour, and I'm going to fight with everything I have, and whatever we have to bring to bear in this battle, we're bringing it."
Brown's appearance featured appeals by school superintendents from Los Angeles, Sacramento and Santa Ana and comes as Assembly Democrats prepare to debate the merits of his proposal at a committee hearing this afternoon.
Senate Democrats less than 24 hours ago suggested reservations about major parts of Brown's plan, announcing they will propose an alternative measure Thursday.
Brown is seeking in his annual budget proposal to give K-12 school districts greater flexibility over how they spend their money, while also directing more money to districts that serve poorer students and English learners.
Brown's proposal would generally benefit urban and rural districts but would be less beneficial to wealthier suburban schools. Critics have argued for a greater percentage of additional school funding to be shared equally by all school districts, with smaller proportions targeting certain disadvantaged students.
Brown said today that the measure is "not an ordinary legislative matter," but "a cause."
"It's a cause for the children of California," he said, "and it's a cause for our own future as Californians."
Brown failed to secure legislative support for a similar school funding proposal last year. He said today that he will talk individually with lawmakers. He said he open to negotiation but will "fight any effort to dilute this bill."
PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday. Renee C. Byer / Sacramento Bee