Editorial: Voters to choose taxes or cuts
The Guardsman Staff
City College, as well as the rest of the California Community Colleges system, is bracing for devastating funding cuts that will be handed down by the state when legislators finalize California’s 2011-12 budget.
Gov. Jerry Brown released a state budget proposal in early January that aims to bridge California’s projected $25 billion-plus shortfall with $12.5 billion in cuts to general fund spending and $12 billion in revenue generation in the form of temporary tax extensions. Remaining true to his campaign promise of no new taxes without voter approval, Brown hopes to put the tax extensions before voters in a special election this June.
The entire budget proposal is currently before the state legislature, which has the power to hold the special election and place the tax measures on the ballot.
City College can expect at least a $9 million cut from state funding if the tax measures pass. The reductions could explode to more than $25 million if the tax measures fail and the state suspends its minimum education funding obligation defined by Proposition 98, which it often does. Deferrals of Proposition 98 funding now total nearly $1 billion.
The California Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended cutting community college intercollegiate athletics completely and raising fees to $66 per unit. Vocational training, ESL, vital student services and general class availability are all conceivably on the chopping block if California doesn’t get its balance sheets in order.
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special tax election held in 2009 was a dismal failure, mostly because any increases in funding to areas like education and child care were offset by substantial cuts to mental health programs and unrealistic “rainy day fund” requirements.
Let’s hope Brown’s proposals are a little more rational, and that Californians are willing to support the services this state needs to compete in a modern economy, like a healthy education system.