What Exactly Did the Govenator Promise?

Today, prominently featured on UC Office of the President’s website, is an article that spells out “Governor: Higher Ed A Priority”.  It goes on to talk about how the Governor has recently committed to not signing a budget unless it has his increases for higher education.

Which is great.  So…really quickly, what does this mean?

Really quickly – In the budget cycle, there are really two budgets that people work off of – the January budget, and the May budget revise.  The Jan Budget is put out by the Governor, based on current projections of next year’s revenues at the time.  Those aren’t real numbers, but just projections of how much money the state will collect from taxes this year.  By May, Tax Day has passed, and people know exactly how much money we will have for the next year.  So the Governor releases the May Revised Budget, based on the actual revenues, and the legislature begins to negotiate over that.  After the Legislature passes the May Revise Budget, then the Governor signs it, and the finances for the next year are determined.

In the Jan Budget, the Gov said he wanted to give the UC, CSU, and CCC more money than he did last year (funding increase).  It’s a slight blessing, because he gave almost all other sectors took pretty deep cuts again.  The increases are below:

126m – Community Colleges
356.3m – University of California
365.6 – California State University
~848m – Total

However, in the Jan. Budget, the Gov also cut into the CalGrant (financial aid), eliminating the Competitive CalGrant, which many nontraditional students and community college students depend on.  The LAO also reports that his federal funding ask, if failed, might also limit the amount of CalGrant to be given out next year, decoupling it from fee increases.

What the Gov. committed to yesterday in Sacramento was promising that no matter what the May Revise Budget revenues may look like, he would not pass any budget from the legislature that “tinkered with higher education”, or did not have his increases that he wrote out for higher education back in Jan.  If he did not sign the budget, then the annual state budget for California would not pass – pushing the budget back down to the legislature to haggle over again, and leaving CA without a budget for a good number of months.  So him threatening to not sign the budget is a pretty serious nuclear option for higher education.  In a highly partisan Sacramento, and strong party lines, the Gov’s stance will affect the Republican/Democratic dynamic.  It will also push the legislature to leave that area of the budget alone.  The Gov. just lended a lot of weight towards the systems of higher education getting the ~848m dollars that was allocated to them in the Jan. budget, making it much more likely that it will pass through the legislature.

It should be noted that ~848m is a far, far cry from saving any of the higher education systems.  The needs to save our education go into the billions of dollars.  But without this particular funding from the government, this 800-something million, we would surely be deeply deeply deeply in dogpoo.

So this is good, in terms of getting more state money for higher education.  But what did the Governor say about CalGrants? To be honest, I’m not quite sure.  His actual public speech was kind of vague in regards to CalGrants.  I did hear a statement that he would not sign any budget that did not fund the CalGrants, which is a great thing.  But he also said that he would like the opportunity to put more money into the CalGrant system.  Whether this means increasing the CalGrant, restoring the competitive CalGrant, or ensuring that the CalGrant will never decouple, I’m not sure.  We’ll be updating that part.

If you’d like to actually see the Governor say all these things, you can find a video of it here: http://gov.ca.gov/multimedia.  It may not be the first video, it’s kinda somewhere in the front-middle of that chain.  But it’s there.  He does actually say all of this.



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