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California’s revised budget plan sparks concerns over student aid and school funding

Updated: May 22

Budget cuts loom over state education.

By Star Eisenberg, Editor-in-Chief

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently unveiled a revised budget plan in response to a multibillion dollar deficit projected for the 2024-25 state budget.

The revised proposal announced on May 10 reveals a $27.6 billion shortfall, in addition to $17.3 billion in proactive cuts recently agreed upon between the administration and the state Legislature, resulting in a total deficit of $44.9 billion.

“These are propositions that I’ve long advanced, many of them. These are things that I’ve supported,” Newsom said during a press conference in Sacramento.  “But you’ve got to do it.  We have to be responsible.  We have to be accountable.  We have to balance the budget.”

TK-12 and community colleges have largely been safeguarded from severe cuts.

“I appreciate that [Newsom] largely left California Community Colleges intact,” said Valley College President Barry Gribbons.  “I know he was dealing with some major fiscal challenges, and he had to make some tough decisions.  He made a lot of cuts that were absolutely necessary, but by and large, he kept California Community Colleges whole, and that’s deeply appreciated.”

The budget reflects a change from prior commitments as Newsom will not fulfill his earlier promise to expand the Cal Grant program.  This promise originated in 2022 when he signed into law Assembly Bill 1746, the Cal Grant Reform Act, to allow more students to qualify and provide increased funding each year.

Community college students, who heavily rely on financial aid, face heightened vulnerability to these budget cuts.  The Cal Grant program offers crucial support to low-income students pursuing higher education.  While the program currently offers around $1,600 annually to eligible students, the lack of expansion implies that this support may not increase in the foreseeable future.

The Middle Class Scholarship initiative, established in 2013 and serving as a lifeline for many students by offering direct financial assistance, is also facing a decrease.  With a proposed cut of $510 million, the future of the program now hangs in the balance.

The proposed budget, totaling $288.1 billion, includes $201 billion for General Fund spending.  It addresses this years $27.6 billion shortfall and a projected $28.4 billion deficit next year by proposing significant spending reductions across state services.  This includes an 8 percent cut for all state agencies, including the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

“Our District is fully committed to participating in the ensuing budget negotiations and to crafting a budget that best serves our colleges, community, and, most importantly, our students,” said LACCD’s Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez in a statement Wednesday.  “The Governor’s reaffirmation of his commitment to funding several key initiatives across our state’s community colleges provides financial stability and is a recognition of our vital role in shaping California’s future.”

CSU Chancellor Mildred Garcia has expressed concern regarding the revised state budget, indicating no increase next year and only a 2 percent increase in 2025-26, a contrast to the previously promised 10 percent increase over two years.

“As the institution that educates the evolving workforce of California, this budget places us in a position of making difficult decisions,” Garcia said in a statement.

UC President Michael Drake said in a statement, “This is a challenging budget period for California, and Gov. Newsom’s revised budget proposal reflects that reality.”


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