Budget Update—June 24, 2010

Good morning from Fullerton College, where there is a dynamic series of panel discussions today on the subject of course prerequisites and proposed regulatory changes pending before the Board of Governors. The issues presented emphasize the traditional and difficult tensions between open access institutions and those that are working to implement best practices related to student success.

Fullerton was the epicenter of the debate over prerequisites in the 1980s, culminating in a lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, settled through the adoption of regulations requiring that prerequisites be adopted on a course-specific and statistically sound basis through external validation. As the Board of Governors considers modifications to the regulations to align with emerging student success research and allow more internal content validation, there is the need to ensure that historic barriers to access and success are not erected again.

This is closely associated with the work of the Commission on the Future, as we make a commitment to give far more Californians the educational achievement they need, while matched with promises of access and equity. What is exciting is the number of people that are talking about student access, equity and success--truly the most number of discussions I have seen in my fifteen years representing community college issues.

Dems Work Toward a Two-House Spending Plan
Although the end of the fiscal year will be quickly upon us next week, the Conference Committee reconciling the differences between the spending plans crafted by each house remained generally quiet this week, as discussions among Democratic legislative leadership sought to reconcile differences between plans crafted by the majority party in each house.

The Assembly Democrats plan, creative and questionably legal, borrows significant out-year revenues from an oil severance tax to avoid significant cuts. The Senate Democrats plan meanwhile continues temporary taxes and increases others, although in a manner that doesn't deliver enough revenue to avoid difficult cuts. This has caused tensions between the two houses, as Senate leaders have privately blasted Assembly leaders for raising "false hopes" among Democratic constituencies that cuts can be avoided.

The talks now appear strictly between the majority party leaders and don't appear to include the governor or any Republicans, whose votes will be needed to adopt a final spending plan.

Meanwhile, the Conference Committee is scheduled to meet this afternoon, during which the LAO will present its analysis on the Senate's state-local realignment plan.

Also this week, Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) outpolled former Assemblymember John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) in Tuesday's special election to fill Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado's former senate seat. While Blakeslee ran clear ahead, he is right now at 49.8% of the vote, short of the 50% necessary to win the seat outright, likely meaning that the seat will remain vacant until August.

While either Blakeslee or Laird would be good community college votes--both served as trustees of San Luis Obispo and Cabrillo, respectively--the lack of a vote from a moderate district pending a runoff election could exacerbate the summer budget delay. Some Democrats that had lost hope in John Laird's chance to win the seat were hoping Blakeslee would win it outright so that he could be seated and develop relationships over the next couple of months that might persuade him to put his vote up for a budget.

Meanwhile, our advocacy continues to be effective. With compromise language on SB 1143 (Liu) that commits the system to student whether an incentive funding program focused on student success might make sense and which doesn't disrupt equalization among our colleges, we are now able to support the bill. We hope that the Conference Committee will be persuaded by the bill's movement to strike the language suggesting the basic skills dollars should be distributed based on performance.

We need to keep up the pressure to oppose the Legislative Analyst's proposal to cut community colleges by $120 million and replace the revenue with a $40/unit fee. While the fee increase of 100% over 18 months is bad enough, the proposal to replace general funds provided for enrollment growth by the Governor, Assembly and Senate proposals with fees is absurd. California Watch's Erica Perez frames the debate well. If students are forced to pay more in fees, questionably smart in this economy, we argue that the revenue should restore the awful cuts to our student success categorial programs.

Capitol Days a Success—Join Us in July!
We would like to thank the college advocates who joined us on Tuesday for our first Capitol Days of 2010. Advocates met at the Chancellor's Office briefing, where they met with Paul Navarro, Deputy Legislative Secretary for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

They then went to the Capitol and met with budget staff members, key budget legislators and local legislators and talked about the budget plan and the need to consider options for local colleges to increase revenues. While the results of most of the meetings led to few commitments and the same vague budget outlook that I can offer in these e-mails, the representation of local community colleges in the Capitol was essential.

Thank you to the representatives of the following colleges and organizations for representing all of us in the Capitol! 

  • City College of San Francisco
  • El Camino
  • Fullerton College
  • Long Beach
  • Los Rios
  • Rio Hondo
  • San Diego
  • Students (representing the Student Senate for California Community Colleges) – San Francisco, San Mateo, Long Beach, Yosemite, Napa Valley, Los Rios, Riverside, Los Medanos, Ventura, DVC, LA Harbor, Santa Monica, Mendocino
  • EDGE Campaign

It's not too late to register for the July 20 Capitol Days event!

Community College League of California
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(916) 444-8641 | (916) 444-2954 fax
Email: cclc@ccleague.org

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