California Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed 2014-15 budget was released last week and is framed around a $155-billion-dollar blueprint with the bulk of the new money proposed to be spent going to schools.
The budget—which includes an 8% increase in general fund spending—will offer education an additional $5 billion during the fiscal year, money netted from Prop 30 and Prop 98 funds that is expected to swell to billions more in the coming years.
“By making targeted expenditures, the 2014-15 Governor’s Budget builds upon last year’s investments in K-12 education, higher education, and health and human services,” the proposed budget states. “Despite the recent improvements in our budget situation, [however] there remain a number of major risks that threaten the state’s new-found ﬁscal stability, including the remaining budgetary debt and hundreds of billions of dollars in longer term liabilities.”
Long Beach City College Superintendent-President Eloy Ortiz Oakley, whose institution was forced to discontinue 11 programs in 2012, largely applauded the new proposed budget. Specifically, he noted the governor’s proposal to offer hundreds of millions of dollars to restore deferred funds as well as increasing support for the furthering funding on the Student Success program, which is a set of 22 recommendations to gear students towards success in STEM courses and English.
“The Governor’s proposal to erase the wall of debt by restoring nearly $600M in deferred funds owed to community colleges is welcome news for community colleges because it will stabilize apportionment funding and will allow colleges to prepare and implement annual budgets with a greater sense of certainty,” Oakley said. “Overall, the Governor’s budget will clearly advance California by allowing community colleges to educate more students and help to build the competitive workforce required to maintain California’s leading place in the global economy.”
The CSU, including Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), is not quite as thrilled with the 5% increase they are receiving this year. That amount—$142.2M—is over 40% less than what they requested, $249.7M. The Chancellor’s Office of the CSU will likely attempt to reconcile the amount and provide CSULB with its estimated amount of funding it will receive should the Legislature approve the budget as is.
“Compensation increases were included in the CSU request, but we do not know at this time whether the CSU Chancellor’s Office will include allocations to campuses for compensation increases, given that the CSU request was not fully funded,” said CSULB Interim President Donald Para.
Para noted that the campus—which led the CSU system this year with 83,000 applicants—had anticipated increases in employee health care, retirement, and other mandatory costs.
“[W]hile this budget is good news for the system and our campus,” Para said, “it falls short of what California needs in order to address the demand for high quality instruction from the state’s high school graduates and community college transfers. It will take several years of consistent state reinvestment for each of the 23 CSU campuses to fully recover from prior budget cuts.”
The California Faculty Association echoed Para’s sentiment. The organization, which represents thousands of CSU faculty, staff, and workers, called for more funding while citing recession troubles as the reason there has been a “terrible toll on access to educational opportunity.”
“While we appreciate the Governor’s recognition that public higher education needs greater investment after years of debilitating budget cuts,” said CFA President Lillian Taiz, “his proposal still leaves tens of thousands of California students out in the cold, clamoring for the university education that will help ensure a more prosperous future for our state… We urge Legislators to support Speaker John Perez’s proposal to provide additional funding to the CSU so that this generation of California students will be able to have the same opportunities so many Californians have had before them—access to a quality, affordable university education.”
The budget now faces the Legislature for approval by mid-May.
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