State Adopts Budget; Colleges to Receive Additional Funding

Vanessa Duffy

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger passed a budget of $5.8 billion for California community colleges on Oct. 8 then vetoed $60 million on Tuesday which was supposed to fund economic development grants and categorical programs like students with disabilities.

The three undecided months that it took to pass the budget added $9 billion to the state’s deficit. It was a 54-1 vote in the Assembly and 27-9 in the Senate.

The state’s budget for community colleges was $5.8 billion, but $189 million will be deferred until the next fiscal year.

“The community colleges are serving roughly 200,000 students for which we are receiving no state remuneration,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott. “The $126 million growth augmentation will fund approximately 60,000 of the 200,000 unfunded students on our campuses. The enrollment funding will help our colleges respond to the tremendous demand they are experiencing but the deferral still puts us in a tough spot. Our credit card is getting pretty heavy here.”

The college now has a $1.2 million deficit because of money lost in the last couple years, according to Ron Nakasone, executive vice president of finance at GCC.

“Last year the state cut categorical programs significantly,” said Nakasone. “To fund those programs the college [was supposed to receive] $550,000 in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment act that we will not be getting this year.”

To make up for the deficit, Nakasone said the college will have to approach the faculty about pay cuts.

Community colleges will receive $126 million if they attain a 2.2 percent enrollment growth. There are three enrollment reports a year at which time the college budget committee looks at projections. If growth is anticipated, the college will receive funding or make an adjustment for next year.

If the college doesn’t receive the enrollment required, cuts will have to be made. Currently, the college plans to offer only 55 percent of the normal load of classes for the winter session, but the school will working on an agreement with the budget committee to try to restore the amount of classes.

“The legislature should try to meet the higher current year funding level which is about $3 billion higher than the governor’s proposed level,” said Jennifer Kuhn from the legislative analyst office. “If they did, it could either make cuts to non-education programs or raise substantially more revenue and dedicate that revenue to education.”