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What a Difference a Year Makes! - Nov. 6, 2013

 

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Good morning/afternoon from Washington, D.C., where a meeting sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges and the U.S. Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council just ended. It's a quick 25 hours on the ground here, so I wanted to get a message to you before I get on a bird to Los Angeles for the California Economic Summit. I'll write more about each of those in a moment, but I wanted to start by talking about what a difference a year makes.
One year ago, California's voters went to the polls and embraced an end to state budget deficits as far as the eye can see--a mismatch in revenues even after a $10 billion reduction in General Fund spending since 2007-08. In voting to support Proposition 30's temporary sales and personal income tax increases, voters stopped the bleeding, including a proposed additional cut to community colleges of $545 million.
Instead of more cuts, Proposition 30 immediately restored access by adding state-funded classes for 20,000 additional community college students. Additionally, $159.9 million in debt ("deferral") incurred by community colleges was repaid. But, that was just the beginning.
Because of Proposition 30, this year's budget was a marked departure from those we have seen over the last five years. Access was restored for over 35,000 community college students, and a 1.57% cost-of-living adjustment was provided to begin chipping down the 18% inflationary deficit accrued by colleges since 2007-08.
Further, look at the additional restorations made possible by Proposition 30:
  • Student Success: $50 million augmentation
  • Deferred Maintenance: $30 million
  • Online education coordination and access: $16.9 million
  • Extended Opportunities Programs and Services: $15 million
  • Disabled Students Programs and Services: $15 million
  • CalWORKs: $8 million
  • Academic Senate: $150,000
I know it still feels like we don't have enough resources to meet the needs of our communities, and that is correct. In fact, in addition to that accrued inflationary deficit (equalling over $800 million!), the community college budget is still $80 million below what was provided in 2007-08. Additionally, districts have been told that between $41 million and $121 million in money promised for last year's budget won't be forthcoming.
In summary, Proposition 30 stopped the bleeding from our colleges and for that we are grateful, but we're not out of the woods yet.
Meanwhile, I am excited about so many developments at the state and national level. The meeting that just concluded here in Washington united oft-competing interests to talk about how we can better promote educational and economic development, particularly in our communities struggling the most. At the end of the day, our community members who want training and jobs could care less who the provider is, they just want a chance to capture a living wage for themselves and their families.
Tomorrow, leaders from around California will gather in Los Angeles for the second California Economic Summit. Things definitely look better than when we gathered in Santa Clara last year, but we have real work to do.
California has added 826,500 non-farm jobs since the low of February 2010, but is still short 541,400 non-farm jobs from California's July 2007 high. However, there are also 692,511 more workers than in July 2007, meaning there is a gap of 1.2 million jobs (8.2%). This also doesn't include those individuals who have left the workforce because they believed looking for a job was futile.
We can't wait for the jobs to "arrive" to think about providing the education and training necessary for our students to find that living wage. Jobs are following educational attainment and, now more than ever, employers are looking at where successful education and training is occuring and locating in those locales. Leaders in community colleges nationally are working with civic leaders to be ahead of the curve in anticipating workforce needs, and are drawing jobs, and thus economic empowerment for distressed communities, correspondingly.
I look forward to speaking with many of you about these critical issues in a couple of weeks at the League's Annual Convention in Burlingame.
 
Thank you,

Scott Lay
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


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Last Updated: 11/6/13