Schwarzenegger Defends Burly Budget Cuts

Allan Beglarian

On Feb. 28, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hit the stage at the Town Hall Organization’s meeting at the downtown Los Angeles Marriott, defending his budget cuts, which will reduce the state’s education budget by 10 percent.

The grim reality is the $3.3 billion shortfall in the current fiscal year, which will grow to $14.5 billion next year. The who, how and why of it is a different story, but the unpleasant fact still remains. It is this huge deficit that Gov. Schwarzenegger is trying to address, and at the Town Hall meeting the governor explained his plans.

Schwarzenegger unveiled a three-step plan to ensure that California will stay within its budget.

First, he has proposed budget cuts across the board.?He is requesting a 10 percent cut of everything; which will equate to a $460 million decrease for the 2008/2009 school year. No programs will be omitted from these cuts, including education and health care funding.?

Schwarzenegger did admit that as a result of these cuts there will be some job losses, but he is confident that as the California economy continues to grow, more jobs will be created.

When asked how these cuts would impact Glendale Community College, Lawrence Serot vice president, Administrative Services at GCC said, ” These cuts will have three distinct ramifications for our school.

First, there will be no cost of living adjustments to cover the rising costs of inflation on our operation.

“Second, our normal growth rate has been three percent previously and that will fall to about one percent. This spells into a two-thirds loss in our growth dollars. And thirdly, there will be cuts in major programs such as EOPS (Extended Opportunity Program and Services,) DSPS (Center for students with disabilities,) Matriculation and Grants for the Nursing program.”

Serot’s response to whether there will be job cuts at GCC was that, “There will be no layoffs, but an early retirement incentive will be considered by the GCC board for a group of 30 to 40 employees.”

“We all must prepare for the cyclical recessional period that has in my opinion been long over-due,” said Tommy Welch, 31, a former teacher and an English Learner Coordinator at Harmony Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles.

“There has been talk at the district level that most school site administrators, such as principals, assistant principals, coordinators (me), and curriculum coaches, will have to take a few unpaid vacation days (furlough). It won’t be that great for us, but everyone has to give a little. Just as they always have during budget crises, the schools and education system will survive, but something must be done. and at the end of the day, all Californians will feel the impact either directly or indirectly,” Welch said.

The second step in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s plan will compensate the 2008/2009 budget so that there will not be a shortfall. “I am using the authority given to me under Proposition 58 to suspend next year’s pre-payments for the Economic Recovery Bonds and to sell the remaining bonds to rebuild this year’s budget reserve,” as Gov. Schwarzenegger had stated to the California Legislature at Sacramento.

Third, he [the governor] will fix the system on a long-term basis by making sure that the politicians at Sacramento do not spend more money than they have, but actually under-spend on that which they do have. According to the Governor, this under-spending should then create a surplus of funds that will be deposited in a “rainy-day” fund to further prevent cuts in the future budget of California.

The composition of this article was made possible through the efforts of Sharyn Obsatz, the instructor of Journalism 102 class at GCC who took her class on an extra credit field trip, and Gracie Ann Williams, a student at GCC, who helped in the gathering of material at the Town Hall meeting.