By Lindsey Maeda
California’s unpromising economic state is likely to trigger another round of spending cuts, which would mean a $10 per unit increase in tuition at community colleges statewide. The Legislative Analyst’s Office reported last week that the state has not received its desired budget of $88.5 billion.
Therefore, the state’s $3.7 billion revenue shortfall will trigger a total of $2 billion in cuts to several state programs, some of which include the California Community Colleges, University of California and California State Universities. These four programs fall under the first tier of cuts.
The first tier will be triggered if revenues are forecasted to be $1 billion or more below the budget level. The second tier will be triggered if revenues are forecasted to be $2 billion or more below budget, although the distribution of these cuts depends on how far the revenues fall. If the revenues are $4 billion or more below the level assumed in the budget, all cuts may be triggered.
Since the state has not reached the desired budget that lawmakers had hoped for, Governor Jerry Brown will implement Tier 1 trigger cuts and three-fourths of the Tier 2 trigger cuts as early as January. Looking into these cuts from a local aspect, Elans will be affected in one way or another.
Interim President, Tyree Wieder said that at this point, ELAC would not face too large of an impact from the cuts. She and the college budget committee met to discuss the state reductions two days ago. “The district did request that all colleges reduce their budgets by five percent over last year’s expenditures. Fortunately, ELAC has a reserve funding,” said Wieder. ELAC will be able to use these funds to offset the 5 percent reduction. Wieder also said that for the rest of the 2011-12 fiscal year, classes would remain the same as the previous year.
The administration will not be doing anything different from the previous fiscal year. There are no plans of reducing ELAC’s staff or personnel, and no class cuts for the spring semester are anticipated at this time. “We are monitoring expenditures right now, and we are trying to reduce them. But, next fiscal year we might have to look at the budget situation because we will then receive another reduction by the state,” said Wieder.
Fee hikes may affect Elans who do not receive financial aid. When fall semester began, student tuition increased from $26 to $36 per unit. By the summer semester, Elans will have to pay tuition of $46 per unit, due to an estimated $30 million reduction from community colleges.
Accounting major Mason Zheng receives financial aid and believes that paying $46 per unit is still reasonable. “I don’t really think the fee hikes are that damaging to the student body and there has to be a reason behind this action. Students shouldn’t be upset. Although, I do feel sorry for the international students, because I know that some of them work really hard to get here,” said Zheng. Zheng plans on transferring to the University of Southern California, which may be a better option than transferring to a UC or Cal State with the state’s economic condition.
Those who are plan to transfer to UC and Cal State schools will be affected by the Tier 1 cuts as well. As projected by the LAO, $100 million will be automatically cut from both the UC and Cal State school systems. This could possibly influence the number of students admitted for the next fall semester. Students attending Cal States such as Occupy ELAC Angie Rincon, will be taking another blow from the economy, as the California State University Board of Trustees decided on a 9 percent increase in tuition last Wednesday.
Rincon currently attends Cal State LA, but is unsure if she will be taking classes there next semester because of the increase in tuition. “I do not receive financial aid, and I get all my money off of scholarships,” said Rincon.
Former Elan Marlissa Wong is also forced to endure the cuts made toward the Cal States, as she currently attends Cal State Long Beach. She does not agree with the state’s decision to raise tuition. “They’re making it harder for us to get an education. The tuition difference between a community college and university alone is already drastic enough, but having an increase on that price only discourages us to continue to reach for a higher education,” said Wong.
The Tier 2 cuts may also affect ELAC, since it involves Proposition 98. According to the LAO, the funding from Prop. 98 amountsto about two-thirds of what community colleges thrive on.
The governor’s Department of Finance will release a final revenue projection Dec. 15. “It’s very unfortunate that the state of California is in a position where we are sacrificing education because of budget problems. We have to invest our student population in order for the state’s economy to grow,” said Wieder.
In reaction to the foreseen fee hikes, Occupy ELAC will be hosting a rally next Monday and Tuesday at noon to promote more awareness of the budget cuts. The rally will be held between the Student Services and Administration building.