August 31, 2001

Commentary

Governor slams community colleges

Millions cut from Grossmont-Cuyamaca College District

Gary P. Kendrick
Governing Board President
Grossmont- Cuyamaca Community College District

I am appalled at the Governor's budget actions and his blatant disregard for community college students. His total vetoes of $554 million included $126 million, nearly 23%, from community colleges. As a fiscal conservative, I believe in careful budgeting, but this was not only overkill, it was irresponsible.

With two strokes of his pen, Governor Davis wiped out $98 million in community college funding programs that have run for almost 20 years, including $2.7 million for planned building maintenance and instructional supplies in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. There was no hint of a problem. No discussion with legislators. No consultation with community colleges. No warning.

No conscientious homeowner would ignore leaking roofs or damaged water and electrical lines. But this is exactly what the Governor has done with his rejection of planned building maintenance funds. Over the last five years, the state budget has provided over $50 million each year in planned maintenance funds for projects such as energy-efficient roof repairs, and other air circulation, heating and cooling projects. This year, hundreds of community college projects, including ten Grossmont-Cuyamaca projects totaling just under $2 million dollars, have been unceremoniously dumped. These projects included an earthquake safety upgrade at Grossmont College ($400,000); replacement of underground water lines at Cuyamaca College ($187,000) and $500,000 in roof repairs at Grossmont College and Cuyamaca College. The Governor also cut a $364,000 project to replace air handlers at Cuyamaca College.

Community colleges serve the most students for the fewest dollars per student - absolutely the best bang for the buck. Whether you are 18 or 48, preparing for a university degree or a new career, Grossmont and Cuyamaca welcome you and help you on your way. Our students may not be the big-buck contributors to the Governor, but they are the backbone of this state's healthy economy - technicians at every level, teachers and accountants, engineers and firefighters and so much more. They need adequate buildings to learn in and appropriate materials.

Every year since 1985, the state has budgeted for community college instructional equipment, providing at least $40 million in each of the last four years. These funds, which we match from our general funds, are used to upgrade classroom and laboratory equipment and to purchase computers and software. Based on 15 years of continual funding, Grossmont College anticipated $492,576 and Cuyamaca College anticipated $210,746 for instructional equipment such as microscopes, maps and other essential classroom materials. .

The Governor's vetoes of basic maintenance projects and instructional equipment should be overturned. As the old saying goes, "He has been pennywise and pound foolish." The Legislature should act promptly to restore these funds.

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