This November our nation will make important choices at the polls. In California, there is a very important measure on the ballot, Proposition 30, which will have a profound impact on how community colleges across the State, including the Peralta Colleges, are funded.
I urge you to vote this November and while I cannot tell you how to vote, in accordance with state law, I can give you the following information about the possible effects of Proposition 30 on the Peralta Community College District, our students, faculty, staff, and the general public.
The outcome of Proposition 30 will determine the future of higher education in California for years to come. California’s community colleges face mid-year budget cuts of $338 million if Proposition 30 does not pass in November. This has meant that Peralta has prepared for a loss of $5.5 million, as reflected in the final 2012-13 budget, which would otherwise have gone to serving students.
Overall, funding for California community colleges has been cut by $809 million, or 12 percent, since 2008-09, according to the State Chancellor’s Office. The Peralta Colleges have seen some $27 million in cuts to our budget, meaning we cannot educate nearly as many students as we once did.
Enrollment at the State’s 112 community colleges has declined by almost 500,000 students since 2008-09, and course offerings statewide have been cut by 25 percent. At the Peralta Colleges, we have lost more than 4,000 students due to State funding cuts and have had to cut classes by nearly 25%.
If Proposition 30 passes, the State’s community colleges would receive $210 million in additional funds in 2012-13, or $4 million for the Peralta Colleges. Passage of the measure would make room for an additional 20,000 students statewide, which could mean funding for up to 1,000 additional students at College of Alameda, Berkeley City College, Laney College and Merritt College.
Voting “Yes” on Proposition 30 means that the personal income tax would go up for those earning more than $250,000 and a quarter-cent sales tax increase would go into effect. Schools and colleges, public safety and other State agencies would receive funding.
Voting “No” on Proposition 30 means that no new taxes will be introduced. The following cuts would go into effect and schools and colleges would face billions in reduced funding:
Schools and community colleges $5.35 billion
University of California $250 million
California State University $250 million
Department of Developmental Services $50 million
City police department grants $20 million
CalFire $10 million
DWR flood control programs $7 million
Local water safety patrol grants $5 million
Department of Fish and Game $4 million
Department of Parks and Recreation $2 million
DOJ law enforcement programs $1 million
I hope you find this information on Proposition 30 useful. It is intended to aid you in understanding the possible effects of this ballot measure on the Peralta Colleges.
Again, there are important choices to make at the polls this November. I urge each of you to become informed as to relevant facts and the various choices before us and to vote this Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
José M. Ortiz, Ed.D.