Federal & State Budget Plus CA Governor's Race
March 17, 2010
This morning, we have updates on three fronts--our efforts at the federal, state and the grass root levels. If it feels like there is a lot to keep track of and that we have more fights than ever, you are not alone.
Together with our AACC and ACCT partners, we continue to monitor the developments in Washington, D.C. related to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act and health care reform. While we expected the compromise bill to be unveiled yesterday, the public vetting was pushed back apparently until later today following Congressional Budget Office scoring showing the health care bill revisions cost more than anticipated.
In addition to the apparent difficulty House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is having in rounding up a majority vote for the package, complex budget scoring rules are bogging down the process. To be eligible for the filibuster-proof majority vote reconciliation process in the Senate, the once-per-year reconciliation bill must identify net deficit reduction of $2 billion over the next five years.
Because the health care provisions expected in the reconciliation bill are costly, but popular (such as closing the Medicare prescription drug "donut hole" further and expanding the special Medicaid deal for Nebraska to all states), the reconciliation bill doesn't currently meet the reconciliation deficit reduction requirement. This is one reason SAFRA is such an attractive part of the reconciliation package and why parts of SAFRA are being thrown overboard. With the student loan savings, the reconciliation requirements are met without the health care provisions providing net deficit reduction.
The concern now, however, is that even more savings from SAFRA could be used to paper over the additional costs of the health care reform reconciliation provisions. The spending items apparently left in SAFRA--Pell Grants, student loan reforms, minority-serving institutions--could find themselves in jeopardy if the costs of the health care provisions can not be pared down enough while still attracting a majority vote.
We believe the $67 billion in savings from eliminating unnecessary subsidies in the student loan program are higher education savings and must be reinvested in college access and success.
As community college advocates, we aren't involved in the health care debate, and its important that we don't appear to take sides in this extraordinary partisan and divisive issue. However, we will remain vigilent and let you know if there are any opportunities to protect the education investments that remain in SAFRA.
Governor's Race and Community Colleges
A new Field Poll is out today that finds Meg Whitman significantly ahead of Steve Poizner in the Republican primary for Governor, and slightly ahead of Jerry Brown in the general election. Brown is the only well funded candidate in the Democratic primary.
Whitman yesterday released a 48-page policy agenda "Building a New California." In it, she proposes investing $1 billion more in UC and CSU, but is silent on funding for community colleges. The only mention of community colleges comes in the immigration section, where she proposes repealing AB 540 and prohibiting undocumented students from attending public higher education systems.
This continues a disappointing absence of any talk about community colleges from all three major candidates for governor in what SacBee columnist Dan Walters recently characterized as another "trust me" campaign.
Encourage Meg Whitman to make community colleges, which are serving nearly three-fourths of California's higher education students, part of her plan for California's economic recovery.
State Budget Update
<http://www.ccsf.edu/~sm22m/index.php> While we've been focusing on the $2 billion in federal funds we hoped to get in Washington, D.C., the state budget debate is beginning to heat up.
The news in Sacramento has been mixed. While the state's revenue is up $2 billion over the projections used to identify a $20 billion state deficit over the next 18 months, there is apparent gridlock between the Democratic legislative leaders and the governor.
While the Legislature met its constitutional requirement of resolving the fiscal emergency declared by the governor in January, the governor vetoed virtually all of the package of solutions approved to address the emergency. In vetoing the measures, the governor pointed out that most of the cuts were prospective in the 2010-11 fiscal year and not the midyear cuts he believes are necessary to resolve the deficit.
Tomorrow morning, the Senate's budget subcommittee on education will hold an overview hearing on the governor's budget plan for higher education. Chancellor Jack Scott will testify on behalf of community colleges, and we will be there to monitor and report to you any significant discussions affecting our colleges. The hearing is expected around 9:30 a.m., although is contingent on the adjournment of a short floor session, and will be held in Room 3191. The audio of the hearing should be available.
On Monday, thousands of community college students will converge on Sacramento to make their voices heard. The rally is convening at 7 a.m. at Raley Field in West Sacramento with the one-mile march to the State Capitol scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
Meanwhile, students at the Coast Community College district are "abuzz" with a campaign to have 1,000,000 Californians send a text message of "No More Cuts" to 69302. The results of the campaign will be presented to legislators. Standard text messaging rates apply (no cost if you have unlimited text messaging).
For more information on either of these campaigns or to share your ideas on how to advocate for our students and communities, contact the League's regional representatives Stacy Berger (firstname.lastname@example.org - Northern California) or Elaine Reodica (email@example.com - Southern California).
Thank you for your hard work both on our campuses and as an outstanding group of advocates for the students and communities we serve.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Orange Coast College '94
Community College League of California
2017 O Street, Sacramento, California 95811
916.444.8641 . www.ccleague.org