Governor Jerry Brown just released his proposed budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year and, as expected, it contains a lot for everyone to hate. The plan cuts spending by $12.5 billion and increases revenue by $12 billion, mostly by asking the voters to extend existing temporary taxes. With $1.9 billion in other solutions, the proposal would balance the budget and create a $1 billion reserve.
For community colleges, the spending plan proposes:
- cutting community colleges by $400 million by “reforming census dates”
- providing 1.9% enrollment growth funding ($110 million)
- increasing fees to $36 per unit, generating $110 million
- other modest accounting changes
The $400 million cut eliminates funding for 90,500 full-time students, or over 215,000 headcount students through an accounting gimmick. After enrollment growth, funding will be eliminated for 67,856 FTES, or 161,141 students.
This is a disaster for California, considering community colleges continue to experience record demand due to high unemployment, returning veterans and record high school graduations. The proposed fee increase of 38% on top of a 30% increase two years ago certainly feels like the end of an era of sticker-price affordability in California’s community colleges.
These cuts assume the voters approve $12 billion in additional revenues at a June election. If “revenues are taken of the table,” as argued by some, the community college share would require an additional $500 million cut in each of the next five years–a $2.5 billion cut.