Last night, the Legislature wrapped up the first year of the two-year legislative session. Our legislative team just met and debriefed on the shenanigans of the last week and, I'm happy to say, community colleges fared quite well.
In the last couple of weeks of session, our team was working on hyper-technical issues, but ones that have a significant impact on our colleges.
The first big issue was seeking legislative reauthorization to backfill redevelopment funds promised to community colleges in the 2012-13 fiscal year that never materialized. We succeeded by getting language in SB 97 and AB 103.
We also had a significant, but under-the-radar issue related to property taxes and the County of Orange. It's a long story, but a court recently found that community colleges were shorted $18.9 million over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscal years because of a local revenue dispute. Because of the work of our team over the last 72 hours, we believe the issue will be resolved in the state budget acts over the next two years.
We have had a lot of inquiries over AB 955 (Williams), which would allow selected colleges to pilot full cost of instruction courses during intersessions. The League did not take a position on this bill, as we recognized that perspectives were quite different, as are the needs of our colleges. The bill reached the governor's desk and, if he signs it, it will be up to the six colleges specified in the bill--College of the Canyons, Crafton Hills College, Long Beach City College, Oxnard College, Pasadena City College, Solano Community College--to decide whether to offer cost-for-service courses for intersessions. Those are the only colleges that are given permission for a limited cost-for-service intersession program, and it's up to those colleges whether to offer such a program.
Additionally, we succeeded in making SB 173 (Liu) a two-year bill. The bill would have prematurely narrowed the scope of adult education at all of our colleges, rather than the collaborative and deliberative process among K-12 schools and community colleges outlined in this year's budget act.
It's been a great legislative year, starting with the success of Proposition 30 last November, which prevented an additional $545 million in cuts to community colleges.
But, we have work to do. Access to a quality community college education has never been adequately funded in community colleges, and the cuts in recent years has exacerbated that. The people that are most disadvantaged are those at the lowest rung of the economic and educational ladder in California, and it is our responsibility to advocate for resources and strategies to lift them up.
Our legislative team is prepared to be aggressive and bold next year to fight for true higher education equity in California, and I hope you'll be part of our effort. For now, thank you for your advocacy throughout this legislative session, and thank you what you do for America's largest and greatest system of public higher education.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Orange Coast College '94