College Board Addresses Budget Crisis

Ashley Carey

The Glendale College Board of Trustees is campaigning for a move they believe will soften the blow of the school’s budget crisis, and save students $30 per unit in tuition fees.

The financial crisis, a statewide $25 billion budget gap, will be felt mostly during the oncoming budget year.

Proposition 98, first passed in 1988, guarantees an annual increase in the budgets of K-14 education. Tax extensions first passed five years ago, would help retain some funding for community colleges. The extensions would last an additional five years.

The support of an additional four Republican district representatives is still needed to ensure the tax extensions make it to the ballot.
“Proposition 98 funding constitutes over 70 percent of total K-12 funding and about two-thirds of total community college funding,” Legislative Analyst Office’s website states. “Currently, Proposition 98 spending (General Fund) is almost 45 percent of General Fund revenues.”

Proposition 98 has the option to be suspended, allowing the Legislature to decide at what level to fund K-14 education. A proposed tax extension would preserve some of the college’s funding, but is not yet on the ballot.

Under Governor Brown’s budget proposal, the California community college system would see a 2.6 percent decrease in funding through a changed census date. This would mean a $400 million cut to community college funding. A $10 per unit student fee increase is included in the proposal, compared to a $40 per unit increase if the tax extension does not pass.

Community colleges already suffered the majority of cuts under Proposition 98, said Mark MacDonald, a lobbyist with the MacCallum Group in Sacramento.

“If Proposition 98 is suspended, we’re talking about a $1 billion cut to community colleges,” MacDonald said. “We’re talking about a completely different way of doing education in California.”

“We have 2.7 million students at community colleges. We need to use all of them,”he said.
The board hired the MacCallum Group to lobby for the tax extensions during tough financial times.

“Use us to get where you need to be,” said Board of Trustees Clerk Dr. Hacopian.
“We know that for us, if the governor’s budget would pass, a little over 2,000 students would still not get served. But, if Proposition 98 is suspended, 5,000 students would not get served,” said Board Vice President Mrs. Gabriellian.

Over 2,500 bills relating to the budget have been introduced in the last month, covering a variety of issues. Things like funding, financial aid, contracting, and accountability are among the issues on the bills. Each proposal must be in print for at least 30 days prior to receiving legislative action, MacDonald said.
“This is the most important election that you will be part of in a long time,” he said. “Assuming the measures make it to the ballot in June, we need student, faculty and staff, and the board promoting the importance of the measures to the college.”

Other topics covered at Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting included accreditation issues, and an overview of the success of the Glendale College nursing program.