Monday, March 7, 2011

Brown's Budget: Eliminate Libraries, Overfund Prisons - CORRECTED

Hey, Californians out there! Do you think all the bad doodoo is with Republan governors in the Midwest these days, in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, etc.? Uh-uh. Look at what your own Jerry Brown is doing, according to the ACLU:

California's governor wants to eliminate the entire $30 million the state spends on public libraries, while spending more than $50 million to imprison two dozen bedridden inmates who pose no threat to public safety.

And from the L.A. Times:

If Brown's budget is passed as is, it will eliminate state funding for the Public Library Foundation, Transaction Based Reimbursement and the California Library Literacy and English Acquisition Service. Public libraries across the state also receive funding from other sources.

A response to Brown's proposed budget by California Library Assn. President Paymaneh Maghsoudi has been posted on the organization's website.
The proposed cuts unveiled by the governor will not only jeopardize library hours, staff positions, and the availability of books and materials, they will also potentially dismantle the cooperative system of borrowing and loaning books, known as Transaction Based Reimbursement (TBR), that has existed statewide for over three decades. Incidentally, a cut of this magnitude to the TBR could make the state ineligible for the federal match that is a part of this program. Lastly, in 2007 alone, more than 20,000 adult learners participated in the state literacy program, benefitting native English speaking adults who have never learned to read, or the K-12 schooling system has failed them. The elimination of the state funding for this program would be truly heartbreaking for individuals and families who desperately need this assistance.
While state funding for libraries has decreased, door counts continue to rise at an amazing rate for most libraries and library branches, and staffs are stretched to capacity. In this difficult economy, libraries are a safety net for many people who have lost their home or jobs and are using their local library to write resumes, attend workshops on credit repair, and utilize free access to high speed Internet to look for work or do research. Public libraries assist our K-12 school children with the necessary tools to help expand their education, such as literacy programs, Homework Help centers, books for school assignments, etc. The timing couldn't be worse for the governor's proposed $30-million cut to public libraries."

Please listen to the voice of experience. The City of Houston cut the city library budget last year, and the library system responded by eliminating Saturdays from the schedule of community libraries. I live about a block from a small city library, a building less than ten years old and overwhelmingly utilized by the locals... when it is open. The library was truly mobbed on Saturdays. Now that beautiful plant and all those resources, purchased at great cost to the taxpayer, sit idle two days out of seven.

The consequences to the education of our children will not, of course, be visible for another decade or more; that's why library funding is such a popular target for budget-busters. But I can tell you what would have happened to me if city libraries had not been open on Saturdays when I was a kid: for one thing, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog, because it wouldn't be here, because the blogger's language skills would be deficient from lack of reading. I didn't have a lot of money, so I spent many Saturday mornings in the Julia Ideson Building of the old downtown library, which was easily accessible by bus.

If library funding is cut even further in order to build (pardon my cringing) more prisons, I think we can be confident that those prisons will be occupied well into the future. It's... I was going to say "it's your choice," but these days I wonder about that, so instead I'll just say, "It's your battle to fight."

MINOR CORRECTION: Stella says HPL's community branch libraries are open Saturdays. It turns out that this is true... for a few libraries in more affluent and middle-class neighborhoods. Quite a few libraries in, shall we say, more ordinary neighborhoods are still closed both Saturdays and Sundays. I stand on my case.


  1. Brown loves his powerful prison union and incarcerates the highest number of human beings in the nation. Further, he wants to eliminate IHSS ( In Home Support Services) which employs over 400,000 part-time caregivers at slightly above minimum wage and half with no union health plans. Brown is a capitalist thug of the Democrat Party type....worse than Clinton (if that's imaginable.)

  2. Well, no, mandt, I'm afraid that's NOT imaginable. :-) But considering Gov. Moonbeam's reputation back in the day, it's interesting to see what he has turned out to be in his later years. I suppose all good things eventually rot and decay, even including me. :-)



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