BY KAREN KINNEY
Unless California lawmakers can agree on a state budget already two months overdue, disbursements of over $600,000 for Financial Aid and state funded programs like EOPS will not be available for City College students this September.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislators are currently deadlocked over a decision to approve a budget for the state of California. The legislator has drafted a budget that proposes no costs to community colleges, while the Governor says a $450 million shortfall needs to be addressed with fewer student services and fewer courses offered. The Governor’s budget proposal includes a three-year increase in the state sales tax by 1 cent per dollar as well as additional cuts and limits on spending that would allow the state to save money.
Those plans, which the governor had revealed to legislative leaders during a private meeting Aug. 3, so far have failed to win endorsements from lawmakers.
EOPS receives money from Cal Grants and according to Jorge Bell, Dean of Financial Aid, there are approximately 13,000 students enrolled in the program with another 5 to 6 percent still planning to apply this semester.
“My main concern with the state budget not getting signed is without the disbursements of the Cal Grant funds, many students will carry a heavy financial burden going into the 2007-2008 school year.” said Bell.
Bell also said that some proposed cuts include reducing supplies and the amount of money for book vouchers.
“With a big demand for services and more needy students, hopefully the district can help pick up the slack.” said Bell.
The truth is, until the budget is signed, City College does not have a definitive answer on what programs will have cuts or by how much. In addition, if the budget is not settled by the middle of September, the college will need to borrow from the state or county treasury to meet its payroll.
According to Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Peter Goldstein, City College feels prepared to deal with potential pending disbursements of Financial Aid and face any questions in the future.
“We took a cautious approach and tried to start our fiscal year in a conservative way.” said Goldstein. “We have developed a conservative set of assumptions if the Governor’s version of the budget comes through that would protect the college.”
Both Bell and Goldstein are urging students and voters to call local government and insist lawmakers assign a budget and share how this budget standstill will affect their lives.