As expected, the Legislature passed the 2011-12 state budget last night in a majority-vote deal hammered out between the governor and Democrats. The spending plan for community colleges is as I wrote in yesterday’s e-mail.
We have posted new budget scenarios and district impacts reflecting the adopted budget.
It could have been much worse. In the "all cuts" scenario, we would see a $502 million reduction in general fund money. During the six-month budget fight, a cut as high as $900 million was discussed.
That said, the budget adopted last night cuts $1.7 billion from higher education, on top of the deep 2009-10 cuts. If the optimistic tax projections don’t come through, another $302 million would be on the chopping block. The California that I have grown up in and deeply love is not one that cuts higher education by $2 billion ever, let alone in one year.
When I graduated from UC Davis School of Law in 2000, fees were $10,000 per year. The fees for this fall are scheduled to be $45,000, and UC said yesterday that fees will go up further with the additional cut added to last night’s budget. I’ll be honest–I wouldn’t be in this job if I paid fees (accrued debt) like that, and fewer law graduates are looking to public interest and public service.
It is highly likely that the "Tier 1" cuts will be triggered, meaning a $30 million cut and a fee increase to $46/unit effective January 1. Regardless of your position on community college fees, you have to admit that it is absurd to ask students to come up with $150 after they have already registered and that it will be an administrative nightmare. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, will likely demand refunds and walk away from their education.
In the short term, better days are ahead in California. The budget is much closer to balance. However, our priorities have fallen out of whack. Our long term viability as a vibrant and diverse economy that provides access to quality jobs for a cross-section of the population is seriously threatened by this divestment from higher education. In fact, most of the new projected tax revenues, if they materialize, will be from income from technology IPOs and directed to a mostly white and already wealthy segment of our population.
For now, thank you for your advocacy throughout the year, and let’s prepare for some larger fights next year to get California back on the right track.