Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Proposition 92 Vote Three Weeks Away

Californians vote on Proposition 92, the community college funding initiative, in three weeks. The measure would lock in $300 million in new funding for the state's community colleges without providing a funding source. That would expose the CSU to even deeper cuts, as one of only 4 areas of the state budget without legally mandated minimum funding.

As the Los Angeles Times puts it:

Community colleges certainly need more money, but Proposition 92 would lock the state into spending hundreds of millions of additional dollars that it doesn't have. Lawmakers would have no choice but to rob other higher education programs to meet the new spending commitment. This initiative represents the worst form of ballot-box budgeting, and voters should reject it.
Inside Higher Ed sums up supporters and opponents of the measure:
California’s controversial Proposition 92 has pitted the various components of California’s higher education system against one another. Among its supporters are the Community College League of California and community college chancellors, presidents and trustees. Among its opponents are the California State University and University of California Systems, and the powerful California Teachers Association. (Although CTA’s statewide affiliate, the Community College Association, broke from its parent organization to support the initiative). The debate has largely denigrated into a turf war: “Proposition 92 if passed could result in unintended problems that will negatively impact the CSU and threaten funding for other critical California programs,” CSU says in its statement. “Proposition 92 requires more state funding and reduces student fees for one segment of higher education without regard to the needs of all of higher education. Since it does not create or identify any new revenue sources, unprotected state programs such as UC and CSU would be competing for a smaller share of available General Funds,” UC’s regents said in theirs.
In the Inside Higher Ed story, Patrick Murphy of the University of San Francisco points out supporters' bad timing:
“The timing probably couldn’t have been worse. They’re coming out now where the governor just said we’ve got a $14 billion deficit and we’re going to cut everything 10 percent – it really looks like [they’re saying] ‘We’re going to get ours.”

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