State Budget Update - Sunday, February 15, 2009

Scott Lay
President and Chief Executive Officer
Community College League of California

Sunday, February 15, 2009

After a 24-hour session, punctuated by occasional meal and nap breaks, the Senate adjourned tonight one vote short of the two-thirds needed to approve the state budget. The upper house needs three Republican votes because one solidly Democratic seat is vacant awaiting a March special election. Before adjourning, Senate President Pro Temport Darrell Steinberg gave a passionate speech as nerves are clearly frayed--many staff and members have been in the Capitol 35 of the last 36 hours.
The Senate plans to return at 11 a.m. tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Assembly, which is widely believed to have its needed 54 votes, is in a caucus right now, trying to decide whether to follow the Senate's lead or to "punt" all the budget bills over to the Senate and await its action.
While anything can happen until the final budget deal is approved, the proposal for community colleges is good, considering the state's budgetary circumstances. Clearly, Governor Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have decided to use community colleges as the mechanism to ensure access to higher education is maintained through this difficult economic time for citizens and the state alike. Thus, the following are major components of the budget under consideration:

  • 2008-09: Eliminates the approved 0.68% cost-of-living adjustment (-$39.8 million)
  • 2008-09: Reduces state funding for mandates (-$4 million)
  • 2008-09: Defers $340 million in state payments to the 2009-10 fiscal year (replacing $245 million deferral approved in existing 2008-09 budget; minimizes state borrowing and reduces Prop. 98 guarantee)
  • 2009-10: Funds 3% enrollment growth ($185.4 million), enough funds for 36,000 new full-time equivalent students
  • 2009-10: Maintains funding for the Competitive Cal Grants program, which provides 22,500 grants annually to needy non-traditional students
  • Generally: Since there were no categorical or general apportionment cuts, language to allow categorical flexibility was not included
  • Future: Places a measure on the next statewide ballot (now scheduled to be May 19) to repay K-12 and community colleges $9.3 billion over seven years beginning in 2011-12.

In the Senate, it is believed that either Senator Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) or Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) will be the necessary 27th vote. Sunday began with all eyes focused on Cox and ended with a focus on Maldonado. We encourage their constituents to keep up phone calls to their offices in support of the budget package that protects community colleges. (Cox: (916) 651-4001; Maldonado (916) 651-4015).
Meanwhile, together with the System Office and other community college organizations, we will keep up the fight through this extraordinary battle. We'll continue to post frequent updates at
Scott Lay
President and Chief Executive Officer
Community College League of California
2017 O Street, Sacramento, California 95811
916.444.8641 .

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