Worst of Budget Cuts Yet to Come

MICHAEL J. ARVIZU
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Canceled classes. Longer lines. Higher fees. Shorter hours of operation.
These are the words Glendale Community College students are faced with as the 2003 spring semester gets under way. Already, cuts in GCC’s budget have resulted in canceled classes, made for longer lines in admissions, increased the possibility of higher fees and reduced the hours of operation for some departments.

Gov. Gray Davis’ proposed budget would slash almost $288.8 million from the California Community College budget. This is on top of cuts Davis made in the 2001-2002 budget, which saw $145.6 million in funds taken away. The governor also plans to cut an additional $524 million in 2003-2004. In total, the governor plans to cut roughly $1 billion from the community college budget.

The budget cuts come as a result of a $35 billion deficit in the state.

ASGCC will hold a rally Thursday at noon to get the word to students that they can do something to help. ASGCC will hold the rally in Plaza Vaquero and will pass letters out for students to sign that will be sent to Sacramento. This is part of a semester-long effort in getting legislators to hear the voice of students in opposing the proposed budget.

“We need a lot of student support for this,” Vice President of Campus Activities Hala Shamas said. “We really need them [legislators] to know that it’s the government that’s making these cuts not the community colleges.”

On Jan. 13, the Board of Governors proposed a $159 million cut to the California Community Colleges budget. This was followed by a proposal on Jan. 16 from the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, which voted to reduce the community college budget by $183 million. The Senate Budget Committee on Jan. 21 proposed $191 million in mid-year cuts.

These numbers are preliminary, and the Community College Chancellor’s office will vote on the amount of cuts later this month.

However, the GCC District is already cutting an estimated $2.2 million from its budget in preparation to deal with whatever proposal the chancellor’s office chooses.

“We don’t know anything until they [chancellor’s office] give us our individual cut,” Vice President of Administrative Service Larry Serot. “We’re going based upon our proportional share.”

The above cuts are in addition to cuts made during the beginning of the year. Those cuts totaled $1.4 million in unrestricted general fund cuts and $1.38 million from restricted general fund programs. This totals roughly $5 million in cuts for the year.

Among GCC’s cuts:

  • Almost $200,000 will be cut, reducing the number of course offerings for the spring semester.
  • Fifty-three classes have been cut this semester, leaving stranded some students who need to take these classes for graduation or transfer requirements.
  • GCC will cut $391,000, leaving only one summer session, which will begin June 30. This is a 32 percent cut in classes, according to Vice President of Instruction Services Steve White.
  • The college will cut $478,500 from the unrestricted general fund operating budget.
  • $480,000 will be cut from the college’s scheduled maintenance program.
  • The college will cut $250,000 from state instructional equipment funding.
  • The college will cut $53,500 from Equal Opportunity Placement Services and $56,000 from Disabled Student Placement Services. Both are estimated state program reductions.
  • Other categorical programs will be reduced by $9,100 – an estimated state program reduction.

    The cuts are certainly bad news for California’s 108 community colleges, which already have had to cut from their respective budgets, but worse for the 2.9 million California community college students, which are affected directly.

    “These cuts are particularly devastating because they occur mid-year,” said Community College Chancellor Thomas J. Nussbaum. “Districts have already committed every dollar of the funding they expected to receive.”

    It is no surprise that student fee increases may follow. Already a projected $24-per-unit figure is being proposed as part of Davis’ budget proposal.

    However, Serot believes that if fees go up, they won’t increase to $24 per unit.

    “It will probably be at least $15,” Serot said. “No one is going to agree to $24. The Board of Governors has a policy that fee increases will be ‘modest and predictable.'”

    Serot added that any fee increase would not affect students who are on financial aid.

    Most of the money raised as a result of the fee increases will not go directly to GCC but to the state to balance the budget deficit.