SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On January 8, 2020, Governor Newsom submitted his 2021-22 State Budget proposal to the Legislature, totaling $227.2 billion. This budget shows a clear and resounding commitment to students. We are thankful for the reduction of deferrals and investments in student supports and grants. Most notably, we are pleased that the budget includes $250 million one-time Prop 98 funds for emergency financial aid grants, $100 million one-time Prop 98 funds to address food and housing insecurity, and $30 million ongoing Prop 98 funds for technology access and mental health resources.
However, this budget cannot become a one-time commitment in the face of an exacerbated basic needs crisis. The inequities of the pandemic and the economic recession have affected community college students more than any population in higher education. Emergency student assistance is necessary but not sufficient to continue empowering California community colleges in their role in preparing health care workers on the front lines, training first responders, and educating emergency medical personnel. It will take infrastructure like basic needs centers, mental health counselors, and accessible technology and broadband to meet the needs of students and bridge the digital divide. This true commitment to students will require California to go beyond one-time funding and make investments that will meet students’ needs in the long run.
“Without students, community colleges do not function. And as enrollment continues to precipitously drop, especially among low income students and students of color, California Community Colleges risk losing not only their source of income, but a generation of workers that could have been afforded access to social and economic mobility. If the legislature doesn’t get serious about supporting community college students, California community colleges will cease to function as an engine of economic recovery and this recession will be harmfully prolonged. Now is the time to intentionally invest in students to create an equitable economic recovery,” Vice President of Legislative Affairs Andrew Nickens.
The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. The Student Senate for California Community College works to promote and safeguard access for current and future students to California public higher education in accordance with the Master Plan for Higher Education through system participatory governance, legislative and policy advocacy, and regional support and development and is the official voice of California community college students statewide.