November 28, 2007

California Ballot Measure Pits Four Years Against Two Year Schools

By Randy Hodgins

According to this morning’s Chronicle of Higher Education, officials at California’s two public university systems are pitting themselves against their counterparts in the state’s community college system over a February 2008 ballot measure that would provide a guarantee of additional state funding for California’s two year colleges.

The measure, officially known as the Community College Governance, Funding Stabilization, and Student Fee Reduction Act but referred to most often by its ballot number, Proposition 92, would establish a separate state funding guarantee for the California Community Colleges, as well as a separate enrollment growth formula.  The measure would also reduce student fees (tuition) and make changes in governance of the two year schools.

California already has a funding guarantee for K-12 schools which is known as Proposition 98.  According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, Proposition 92 would require the state to spend about $300 million per year more for public schools AND community colleges.

The governing boards of the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU)  systems have taken positions against Proposition 92.  While UC and CSU officials expressed strong support for the community college system, they fear that passage of Proposition 92 could endanger the budgets for four year universities because it would limit the pot of state money available to agencies without protected streams of funding.  UC and CSU board members further point out that changing the funding provisions of the measure would require a four-fifths vote of the legislature and a two thirds vote would be required to increase student fees.

Supporters of Proposition 92 include the California School Employees Association and the California Community College Association.  In addition to UC and CSU governing boards, opponents include the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Teachers Association, the League of Women Voters of California and teh California Business Roundtable.

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