The Suspense Files
On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown released a revised state budget plan aiming to close a $15.7 billion budget gap, a bigger hole than previously anticipated. While everyone from state workers to UC students are bracing themselves against the impact of proposed budget cuts, we took a moment to examine what this means for new, emerging legislation in the state.
California Council on Youth Relations (a project of New America Media) has been tracking several Assembly and Senate bills relating to youth in California. As we watch these proposed pieces of legislation move from hearings to committees and back again, it seems that a large number of them are getting caught in what’s known as the “Appropriations Suspense Files”.
How do bills end up here? What is the suspense?
In California, if a bill has a yearly cost of over $150,000 it goes through the Senate or Assembly Committee on Appropriations. This committee is basically in charge of assessing the cost and value of a bill to see if the investment is worth it.
And if it is worth it? In the case of the bills listed below, they are fated to sit and wait in the Appropriations Suspense Files, to be reviewed after the state budget is prepared and the committee has a sense of available revenue.
Below is a list of California Assembly and Senate bills, currently waiting in Appropriations Suspense Files:
• AB2547 (Blumenfield) Establishes a State Office of Homeless Youth Advocate which, for the first time, will designate a state official responsible for coordinating among several state departments that provide information and services for homeless youth. Status: In suspense as of May 16, 2012.
• AB2241 (Dickinson) Establishes the “Transitioning Youth for Success Program” to ensure that juvenile justice youth make a successful transition from detention to education or employment by providing them with a comprehensive transition plan and supportive services. Status: In suspense as of May 9, 2012.
• AB2242 (Dickinson) Aims to reduce the number of expulsions and out-of-school suspensions in public schools, effectively minimizing the extent to which these practices disproportionately impact students of color. Status: In suspense as of May 2, 2012.
• AB2145 (Alejo/Dickinson) Requires that expulsion and suspension data (already collected by the state) be organized by race, ethnicity, special education status, English learner status, socioeconomic status, and gender. Status: In suspense as of April 25, 2012.
• SB1220 (DeSaulnier/Steinberg) Dedicates a permanent source of revenue to fund affordable housing. Status: In suspense as of May 2, 2012.
• SB123 (Liu) Calls upon the California Emergency Management Agency to develop a statewide plan to address youth homelessness. Status: In suspense as of May 2, 2012.
• SB1088 (Price) Prohibits a school from denying enrollment or readmission to a student solely on the basis that they have had contact with the juvenile justice system. Status: In suspense as of April 30, 2012.
• SB1235 (Steinberg/Price) Requires schools to take steps to address high rates of suspension using behavioral strategies aimed at reducing behaviors that lead to suspension. Status: In suspense as of April 30, 2012.