Impacts of Re-Directing Excess ERAF from Counties


The California Constitution requires the State to guarantee that schools receive a certain minimum level of funding. In 1992, to reduce the impact of this mandate on the State general fund, the State required each county to establish an Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) where local property tax dollars are taken from the county, cities, and special districts, deposited in ERAF, and used to bring school districts up to their minimum funding levels. Importantly, despite its name, ERAF does not increase school funding—it merely offsets the State’s school funding obligations, dollar-for-dollar. When more local property tax revenue is diverted to ERAF than is needed to meet school districts’ minimum funding needs, that revenue is deemed “excess ERAF” and returned to the county, cities, and special districts whose taxes were diverted to ERAF.


Charter schools also have minimum funding guarantees, but they do not receive ERAF. 1 Instead, they receive “in lieu” payments from their host school district. If the in lieu payment is not enough to meet the charter school’s minimum funding level, the State makes up the difference.


The California Department of Finance (DOF) has engaged in numerous efforts over many years to shift excess ERAF away from local governments to benefit the State budget.

One of DOF’s recent efforts was to assert, without any legal basis, that charter schools receive ERAF. DOF even supported the California School Boards Association’s unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the State Controller’s determination that charter schools do not receive ERAF.

DOF’s response to that judicial defeat is to propose unconstitutional budget legislation that would give charter schools ERAF, thereby shifting funds away from local governments.

The estimated impact to Santa Clara County from DOF’s proposal would be $32 million per year. Our 15 cities and 11 special districts would also lose roughly $10 million per year.

Losing these additional local property tax dollars would put critical safety net services—such as behavioral health care, supportive housing, and health services for children and families—at significant risk.

DOF’s proposal is also unconstitutional because Article XIII, § 25.5(a) restricts the State’s authority to use or redirect local property taxes from counties, cities and special districts. But DOF seems undeterred by this inconvenient fact.

We are asking our delegation to stay very alert for any proposed legislation entitling charter schools to ERAF.


David Campos, Deputy County Executive

Funding At Risk for Santa Clara County Communities

  Annual Revenue Loss
County of Santa Clara $32 M
15 Cities $7.9M
11 Special Districts $2M
Total Revenue Loss $41.9M


1 California School Bds. Ass’n v. Cohen, 2023 WL 4853693 (3rd Dist. Court of Appeal, unpublished) (“CSBA”). Although the appellate decision is unpublished, it constitutes a final judicial determination that charter schools do not receive ERAF.

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