Day 10 of the Conference Committee focused on higher education and child care. We discussed items such as:
- $1.969 billion in cuts to the CSU/UC system;
- $935 million in cuts from community colleges;
- Eliminating funding for child care for people enrolled in CalWORKS; and
- Eliminating funding for student academic preparation programs.
We chose to not yet act on these proposals because the depth of the cuts we will have to absorb is shaped by the overall structure of the budget that we are putting together. Many of these programs proposed to be cut or eliminated make our society more inclusive and help disadvantaged communities have access to education. Do we want a state in which only the wealthy can go to college? That's not my vision of our collective future.
There was one proposal of the governor's that the Committee soundly rejected - to eliminate the CalGrant entitlements and new awards that helps hundreds of thousands of students go to college every year.
At the same time we are discussing cutting community colleges, we are seeing a fundamental, de facto shift in the role community colleges play. UC's and CSU's are turning away freshmen applicants who are qualified and in a more affluent time would have been admitted. The message being given to these students is: spend your first two years at a community college and then transfer to a UC or CSU as an upper division student. If we cut back access to community colleges, however, we turn away thousands of students who seek a college education. Thus, the committee is struggling with how to absorb cuts while still accommodating these students.
We also approved approximately 30 items relating to the budget, all with a unanimous vote. A sample of these actions includes:
-Technical budgeting adjustments to the CSU/UC system, accounting for the failure of initiatives on the May special election to pass, notably Proposition 1C (Lottery Securitization);
-Adding reimbursement authority to accept hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds for higher education.
In other words, we acted on the items detailed pages 44-46 of the agenda. A full copy of today’s agenda is available on the Assembly Budget Committee website at http://asm.ca.gov/budget under the “Conference Agenda” tab.
Next week we will begin our discussion on the governor's proposal to eliminate CalWORKS and Health Families. The Committee will meet Monday at 2:00.