Revise could deal crippling blow to education
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 22:05
California community colleges are bracing themselves for yet another round of cuts after Gov. Jerry Brown released his revised state budget proposal May 14.
The governor’s May revise showed the state deficit expanding to $15.7 billion—a 57 percent increase to the projected $9.2 billion shortfall in January.
In the budget, the governor paints two vastly differing scenarios for state education funding.
The amount of support would be contingent on the success of his new compromise tax proposal expected to go on the state ballot Nov. 6—estimated to pump $8.5 billion into the state coffers.
It would increase the sales tax by .25 percent and raise personal income taxes on individuals making more than $250,000 a year.
Brown’s tax initiative may become even more important in the coming months.
The governor accounts for about $1.5 billion in revenue generated from the Facebook initial public offering over the next 18 months to help decrease the deficit.
But the stock only sold 23 cents higher than its opening price on its May 18 debut, representing a gain of less than one percent.
If the tax initiative passes, it would generate an estimated $2.9 billion in education dollars.
However, state funding levels are not projected to meet fiscal year 2007-08 amounts until 2014.
And if the proposal fails, cuts to public education will total more than $6 billion.
The K-14 educational levels would bear about 90 percent of the damage, taking approximately $5.5 billion in hits. The UC and
CSU systems would both lose $250 million in funding.
“The budget situation right now puts us in a very precarious position in terms of planning,” said Geraldine Perri, Ph.D., Citrus College superintendent/president. “We try to do our very best to be cautious [in our estimates] so we don’t put the college in
For community colleges, Brown’s budget contains two scenarios that correlate to the success or failure of the tax measure.
Scenario A is the good news. The state uses a deferral system, which delays paying portions of apportionment dollars to schools from one fiscal year until the next.
The current deferral amount totals about $961 million.
This method helps balance the state budget for a given year, but schools strapped for cash often have to borrow money from county offices and pay interest on the loans.
If the tax proposal passes, Scenario A goes into effect. Community colleges would instantly receive a projected $313 million in “deferral buy-back” dollars, slashing the deferral total by nearly a third.
Citrus would be expected to receive $3 million.
But if voters reject the governor’s proposal, Scenario B kicks in.
Under this scenario, community colleges would not only lose the $313 million in deferral buy-backs, but would also face an additional loss of $300 million in apportionment funding to trigger cuts.
Statewide enrollment of full-time equivalency students is expected to drop by 6.4 percent.
Citrus would lose about $3 million in apportionment dollars, according to projections from the CCLC—which would represent a decrease of 673 full-time equivalency students.
This means up to 153 class sections would be cut from the 2012-13 course offerings as Citrus officials begin planning for Scenario B.
“We are going back to the drawing board and looking at ways to preserve the schedule while achieving the cuts needed to balance the budget next year,” said Citrus dean of enrollment management Samuel Lee.
“We haven’t closed that gap yet.”
If Scenario A were to pass, Lee said the school would restructure its course offerings.
“We would have to quick, fast and in a hurry add about 100 sections to the winter and spring sessions,” Lee said. “Which wouldn’t be that hard to do. We’d love to have that problem.”
Brown’s tax initiative also faces stiff competition from a second tax initiative sponsored by Pasadena attorney Molly Munger.
Her proposal calls for taxing all personal income over $7,316 on a sliding scale for the next 12 years, but the proceeds would only go to K-12 schools.
If both initiatives pass, the one with the higher vote total would be adopted.
“Clearly, the California community colleges’ budgets look much better with the successful passage of (sic) Governor’s initiative than without it,” wrote California Community Colleges vice chancellor for fiscal policy Dan Troy, in a press release addressing the revised budget.
“I strongly advise districts to budget very cautiously for the 2012-13 fiscal year.”