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California’s Budget News Hit Hard Locally

Santa Monica’ incredible resource, the Lifelong Learning Community, has helped inform us about events and issues that impact everyone in our community for many years.  SMLLC is written and edited by the incredible Louise Jaffe, Member of the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees and former CEPS co-Chair, who has graciously allowed this repost.


Lifelong Learning Community News – APRIL 2011


For months now, I’ve been writing, or avoiding writing, about the state budget and related local consequences. Yesterday, Governor Brown announced that negotiations with Republican legislators to hold a special June election have collapsed. This means there will be no opportunity for voters to consider extending existing taxes in a June election. 


Democrats in the Legislature have already approved $12.4 billion in cuts. These include deep cuts to preschool and childcare, and reductions in health and human services that will impact people with disabilities, mental health needs, the blind, seniors, low income families, community organizations, providers and workers who provide supports and services. On top of these cuts, the UC and CSU systems lose $1 billion and the community college system loses $290 million – - this translates into course sections cut and less or no access for students pursuing a college education. Community college student fees will rise from $26 to $36 per unit.


These cuts are staggering and will absolutely impact Californians, especially children, older adults, those who are disabled, the poor, and college students. Yet this is just the beginning. Another $12 billion in cuts now haunts all plans for the immediate future… 


Governor Brown and Democratic legislators are now on their own to try to figure out how to increase revenues to avoid an all-cuts scenario. We the voters, for the moment at least, are largely sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see what comes down and what we can vote on. Those of us responsible for running or governing state-funded agencies – this includes the school board, the college board (I am a trustee at SMC), many non-profits (most non-profits that serve the elderly, the disabled, and the poor rely heavily on state funding) are caught in the middle, trying to make plans for various terrible but as yet not fully known contingencies. It is really a mess and really not good news for lifelong learning in California.


Last week, SMC President/Superintendent Chui Tsang held a town hall forum on the budget. You can read about how the budget crisis is impacting SMC at http://surfsantamonica.com/ssm_site/the_lookout/news/News-2011/March-2011/03_30_2011_Lean_Times_Ahead_for_SMC_President_Tsang_Warns.html


The city of Santa Monica is more protected from state cuts and more fiscally independent than the school district and the college district. However, Santa Monica has a robust redevelopment agency with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of future projects on the line. As of this writing, redevelopment has not been eliminated and Santa Monica has moved to protect some funding such as that for the new Virginia Avenue Park library. To read about the City’s efforts to protect redevelopment funds, please go to 
http://www.smdp.com/Articles-c-2011-03-14-71477.113116-City-secures-loan-to-fund-redevelopment-projects.html


Anyhow, please follow the state budget situation. It absolutely impacts us and our local primary education institutions and social service agencies.


I retain a smidgeon of hopefulness because after a recent parcel tax for our schools failed to pass, (I’ve already forgotten the letter), Santa Monicans voted in Y and YY. The lesson I take from this is that there is always another opportunity to move forward, as long as we remain diligent and ready to seize the day!

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