California Republicans want to reverse limits on school reserves

GOP lawmakers in California propose legislation to remove limits on school reserves

California Republican lawmakers want to revisit one of the most controversial parts of this year's budget debate, proposing legislation on Monday to remove new limits on how much money school districts can keep in their reserve accounts. 

The limits, proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, were inserted into the budget in the closing days of negotiations in June. They would only take effect under a narrow set of circumstances -- voters would need to approve a ballot measure for a statewide rainy day fund in November, and lawmakers would need to fill a portion of the fund dedicated to schools.

Nonetheless, the limits have angered education officials, who say the state would be dangerously limiting schools' financial flexibility. Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), who wrote Monday's proposal with Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), said school reserves could become "far inadequate from what's necessary to maintain financial health and stability."

Republicans could face an uphill battle in reversing the limits, which are strongly supported by the powerful California Teachers Assn. The union says schools should be forced to spend money in the classroom rather than "hoarding" it in reserve accounts. School administrators say the union is simply trying to make more money available during contract negotiations.

Olsen said she'll be working on winning over Democratic support for her legislation.

"Many Democrats and Republicans are like-minded, that this was the wrong direction to move," she said.

Follow @chrismegerian on Twitter for more updates from Sacramento.

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