“The failure to sufficiently accommodate student needs is heartbreaking,” – Chancellor Cindy L Miles
September 30, 2010 (Sacramento) -- The continued lack of a state budget has hit home in the East County as the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District runs short of revenues to make payroll. The September payment owed by the state is one of the largest of the year and its delay has forced the district to borrow $5 million from restricted funds.
The District complied with state law by passing a 2010-2011 budget on Sept. 21 that is already $15 million short of meeting district needs. To deal with the shortfall in the $202 million budget, the district cut back course offerings, reduced the number of part-time workers, and left 148 - almost 16 percent - of district jobs unfilled.
“This budget represents far more than state compliance and spread sheets,” Chancellor Cindy L. Miles said. “It reflects our values and our commitments. The failure to sufficiently accommodate student needs is heartbreaking, even as those who do manage to get classes are receiving an excellent education.”
The college district plans to continue its focus on providing space for students and making every effort to ensure their success despite the budget constraints. About 900 more students are enrolled than will be funded by the state, continuing a trend now in its fourth year. Wait lists for classes topped 15,000, even as another 6,000 were able to move from wait lists into class seats.
Student trustees Christopher Enders and Charles Taylor told Governing Board members stories they’re heard from frustrated students unable to get into crowded classrooms. At the same time, they urged the Governing Board to be wary of simply adding course sections without adequately providing essential support services such as counseling and financial aid.
The district’s budget includes an unrestricted general fund – the district’s basic operating monies – of $108.2 million, representing 54 percent of the total. Restricted general funds of $21.6 million and capital spending funds of $60.6 million make up another 41 percent of the total district resources.
“As state Chancellor Jack Scott told us in his recent visit to Cuyamaca College, the state funding cuts and delays are a tragedy,” Governing Board President Bill Garrett said. “Despite our limited resources, we continue to use what we have thoughtfully, strategically, and deliberately. We’re still serving students first, keeping them foremost in our minds and hearts, and we’re still planning ahead.”
In Sacramento, the Legislature remains locked in a partisan divide and has failed to agree on a budget, leaving the state unable to pay its bills. Republicans have refused to vote for any budget that includes any tax increase to raise revenues for funding programs such as education and public services. Republicans insist that more cuts are needed in state spending to trim "fat" and also want to see taxes further reduced, which the GOP argues will create jobs. Democrats have refused to vote for a budget that further slashes education and public services, arguing that such cuts have already been too harmful to vulnerable populations such as the poor and elderly as well as students. Democrats have maintained that its irresponsible to approve more cuts without addressing the revenue shortfall in an era of declining property and sales tax revenues due to the economy.
Education currently accounts for the majority, about 55% of California’s state budget, according to the California Department of Finance.
The Democratic leadership has proposed a wellhead tax on oil, closing loopholes for corporations that offshore assets and outsource jobs overseas, as well as a nickel-a-drink tax on alcoholic beverages, among other options considered, however although Democrats have the majority in both houses, California’s constitution requires a two-thirds majority to pass a budget. Thus the stalemate continues, and meanwhile local colleges and other institutions dependent on state funding will continue to feel the pinch.
For more information about the colleges and the district, go to www.gcccd.edu.
For more information on the California state budget, see http://www.dof.ca.gov/html/bud_docs/question.htm.