AB 40, Common School Fund Bill, Passed By Legislature

Posted by Lisa Strand on Wednesday, November 09, 2005 in WLA Blog Archive
Library supporters are urged to contact Governor Jim Doyle as soon as possible to ask him to veto AB 40, relating to the Common School Fund. The bill passed the Senate Tuesday by a nearly party line vote of 18-15. Not only did all 17 Senate Democrats vote against the bill, one Republican, Tom Reynolds, also voted against the measure. AB 40 has already passed the Assembly, so now it heads to the Governor for his signature or veto.

WLA is concerned that the bill will reduce the amount of money going into the Common School Fund, which is the sole source of funding for about 50 percent of school libraries. Under current law, 100% of forfeitures of money related to a drug crime goes into the Fund. AB 40 would reduce that to 70%, ostensibly to increase collections of these forfeitures by local law enforcement authorities. Unfortunately, no one can reasonably predict the actual impact of the bill. What if collections by local law enforcement don't increase? School libraries are already hurting for resources and this bill could exacerbate the situation.

There are two other bills pending in the legislature that would likely reduce payouts from the CSF to school libraries: AB 152 and AB 130. In the past, there have been many other attempts to raid the fund or reduce the amount contributed to the fund. While often well-intentioned and for other worthy causes, the constitutional intent of the CSF is to support school libraries. It should be preserved for that purpose.
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