Budget in hands of voters
Possible section cuts await ballot results in fall
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 15:08
California’s enacted 2012-13 budget projects the state will have a nearly $1 billion surplus within a two-year period, while increasing the General Fund by $159,900,000 for California community colleges, retiring apportionment deferrals. In addition, $50,000,000 will be available for apportionment growth.
The refuge to California community college budgets is dependent on the voters in the Nov. 6 election and whether temporary tax initiatives pass — mainly the Contra Costa County $11 parcel tax and Proposition 30.
The parcel tax initiative, unanimously approved by the district Governing Board during its July 25 meeting, taxes homeowners in Contra Costa County $11 per piece of property (parcel) raising an estimated $3,900,000 annually.
Contrarily, CCC Interim Vice President Donna Floyd said failure of the passing of the tax initiative could result in a 6 percent course schedule reduction for the projected spring 2012 schedule, approximately 60 sections, or 3,200 clock hours.
Revenue from the tax go to the Contra Costa Community College district to be distributed among campuses in the district — Diablo Valley, Los Medanos and Contra Costa colleges, as well as the LMC Brentwood Center and the DVC San Ramon campus.
Funds from the tax will support course offerings, instructional programs and increase student access to support services. No funds collected, in the event the parcel tax passes, will be used for administrative salaries.
“If Proposition 30 passes it will give us money to add classes right now,” district Governing Board Trustee John Marquez said.
“Statistics show we are having to not add classes because we don’t have the finances to hire instructors. Proposition 30 will allow us to maintain what we have and give us a little breathing room to hire staff.”
The manner in which to disperse the revenue among the colleges has not been determined. Allocation recommendations, outlined in the May 23 Governing Board meeting agenda, call for a division of funds based on state-funded, full-time equivalent students (FTES). FTES is one student taking 12 or more units during a semester. Dividing the revenue in this manner would appropriate roughly 20.12 percent ($784,680) of the yearly district allotment to CCC, 27.14 percent ($1,058,460) to LMC and 52.73 percent ($2,056,470) to DVC.
Proposition 30 will raise sales tax statewide by one quarter of one cent in addition to increasing state income tax rates for residents making more than $250,000 annually.
The funds will be allocated among the state’s school system as follows — 89 percent will go to K-12 public schools and 11 percent to community colleges.
If these tax proposals fail, not only will CCC and the district be facing more cuts, but the 2012-13 enacted budget proposal will be reduced by $6 billion. Both the parcel tax and Proposition 30, if voted in, will expire by the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year. The 2012-13 budget can be found at www.ebudget.ca.gov.
In its July 26 press release the district Governing Board reported reductions totaling more than $21 million in state apportionment funding over the prior four years.
During that time frame course offerings and student services have decreased districtwide in addition to employee lay-offs and hour reductions. District Chancellor Helen Benjamin said in a quote from the July 26 press release,
“Passage of the parcel tax will help the district bridge the gap caused by years of reductions in state funding, and a precarious budget climate, in the near future. We hope county voters will value the work we do in preparing students for transfer to a four-year instruction, and educating students to qualify for 21st century jobs, as an investment worthy of their support.”
Agenda item C, which focused on parcel tax updates and discussion presented at the May 23 Governing Board meeting, states that county election costs are estimated at $300,000 - $400,000.
The cost is allowed thanks to the General Fund due to its relation to the submission of the ballot process. Campaign and election costs are estimated at a total of $200,000.
“The (July 26) press release is pretty much where we are,” CCC President Denise Noldon said.
“We will be discussing what could be done if the parcel tax passes. We want to do a good job of educating ourselves as to providing resolution for our current programs.”
Dr. Noldon said there has not been much discussion about how to use the tax revenue because the money is uncertain.
Dr. Floyd said, though nothing is for sure, “If (Proposition 30) passes (CCC) might be able to offer a (spring 2013) schedule similar to spring 2012. We probably won’t have to make any cuts.”