Governor Brown freezes funding for Safe Routes to School
June 12, 2013 2 Comments
Sacramento – In an unexpected move late in the day on Monday, June 10, the Legislature took action on a budget deal recommended by the Governor to put a hold on funding for the popular and effective Safe Routes to School program.
The Conference Committee decision came as a surprise to advocates, who had been assured by prior budget decisions that there would be continuation of existing Safe Routes to School funding through June of 2014. Advocates repeatedly met with and expressed interest in working with the Administration on creating an effective Active Transportation Program structure that would at a minimum maintain the best aspects of the existing programs. Further discussions were to take place this summer in order to adopt a new program for the next year. The move on Monday pushes discussion and adoption of the new Active Transportation Program to all happen this summer.
Please take action now to save Safe Routes to School in California. Sign up to join our legislative update webinar on June 17th and make a donation to support the Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s advocacy efforts in California.
According to Jeanie Ward-Waller, State Advocacy Organizer with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, “We have been working in good faith with the Governor’s Administration and the Legislature toward an Active Transportation Program concept that we can support, so we were surprised to see the decision Monday to restrict this year’s funding. We will continue to advocate for a minimum guarantee of funding for Safe Routes to School projects to flow to California communities, especially those communities that have a desperate need for these safety benefits.”
Over the last decade in California, Safe Routes to School has funded the construction of more than 1400 projects creating safe streets, sidewalks, and bike paths near schools across the state – with the primary goal of ensuring that children can walk and bicycle safely in their neighborhoods. Due to limited funding, only one in five schools have received the benefits of this program and during a time of rising childhood obesity nationwide, children in California are walking more now than they did a decade ago. Thanks to Safe Routes to School, the risk of those children being injured or killed by vehicles on their way to school has also steadily declined.
In January the Governor released a budget proposal to eliminate the Safe Routes to School Program and redirect the program’s dollars to the tune of $46 million into a new $134 million Active Transportation Program. The initial Administration proposal for the Active Transportation Program indicated the program’s intent to fund walking and bicycling projects but it did not include a guarantee for continued investment near schools for the health and safety of kids. The initial proposal also did not explicitly limit all program funds to be spent on walking and bicycling, or include language to require investment in disadvantaged communities.
Safe Routes to School advocates appealed to the Legislature and the Administration repeatedly this spring to continue dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School, and as of last week the Senate and Assembly budget committees voted to assure that would happen for fiscal year 2013-14.
Monday night’s decision by the Budget Conference Committee puts pressure on stakeholders to accept the Administration’s new program or risk losing funding for Safe Routes to School altogether.
What you can do now
Join our legislative update webinar on Monday, June 17th at 10am for the latest news on the budget action this week and how the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and statewide partners are responding. Speakers include Tony Dang (California WALKS), Josh Stark (TransForm), Marty Martinez and Jeanie Ward-Waller (SRTSNP). Register here.
Stay tuned to saferoutescalifornia.org for more news affecting Safe Routes to School as it happens.
Donate to help the Safe Routes to School National Partnership continue to advocate for Safe Routes to School in California. We are seeking to raise $5,000 by June 30 so that we can keep the pressure on. Your support to save Safe Routes to School is more important now than ever before.