Dear Commons Community,
California’s Assembly Speaker John Pérez on Wednesday released a “blueprint” for the coming year that includes establishing a rainy-day reserve, paying down borrowing debts, bolstering higher education, and making a down payment on a transitional kindergarten program for all California 4-year-olds. The blueprint’s release comes on the heels of a positive report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office last month that forecast, absent any new actions by the Legislature, that the state would end the 2014-15 fiscal year with a surplus of $5.6 billion. As reported in The Huffington Post:
“The blueprint, Pérez said, lays out two primary objectives of the Assembly’s Democratic majority: ensuring long-term stability of state finances and spending on targeted programs designed to bolster the economy and increase opportunity.
College and university administrators praised the plan’s proposal to not only fund a promised 5 percent increase in state funding for higher education next year but to also provide additional funds to expand enrollment.
“After years of disinvestment in higher education caused by a severe economic downturn, the Chancellor’s Office welcomes the recognition by Speaker Pérez that California community colleges play a central role in the economic vibrancy of our state,” said Vice Chancellor Dan Troy.
University of California Vice President Patrick Lenz said additional state funding above the 5 percent increase “will address enrollment growth — potentially adding an additional 2,200 freshmen and community college transfers.”
California was one of the nation’s leaders in providing a high-quality, low-cost public higher education system but one that suffered in recent years due to the Great Recession of 2008. It is good to see that California has turned around its fiscal fortunes and is hoping to reinvest in its educational institutions. Speaker Pérez’s proposal is a good starting point in what will likely be a long budget process.