Governor to decide on new funding system


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Senate Bill 361, if signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, will increase Skyline’s budget along with many other colleges in the 72 districts described in the bill.

A new funding system is presented in SB 361, which will allocate more funds for community colleges across California. The bill has been approved by legislation and now awaits the governor’s decision.

“We are optimistic that he will sign it,” said Jason Murphy, the legislative aide for Senator Jack Scott, and the author of the SB361.

A little over $2 million has been set aside for California’s community colleges. If the bill passes, San Mateo will receive an additional $1.5 million to the yearly budget. Unlike the previous funding system, the new system releases more funds to colleges with lower revenues. All 72 districts will receive a sizeable “bump” in funds ranging from $1 – $3 million. The current system doesn’t take into account unemployment rates and part-time students; the new system does.

“The governor hasn’t taken a position on SB 361, and he has until the thirteenth to do so,” said a spokesperson for the governor who decline to be named.

Governor Schwarzenegger has until the end of the month to take a stance on SB 361. If he doesn’t sign or veto the bill, it will be automatically implemented into law. If the Governor vetoes the bill, SB 361 will have failed. Even though the bill passed in the Senate and State Assembly, it didn’t receive a veto proof margin, which is 2/3 majority.

“If he were to veto the bill, it would be dead,” said Murphy. “We would have to start from scratch all over again.”

If vetoed, the bill would be revised and brought back to the Senate floor when legislation begins again.

“Ms. Speier is hopeful that he will sign the bill, because community college funding is essential,” said Tracy Merchild, spokesperson for Senator Jackie Speier.

In recent months, the governor has taken stances for community colleges, promising to lower unit cost for community colleges from $26 a unit to $20. However, before the governor took office, one unit cost students $11.

“It is likely he will sign it,” said Sabrina Lockhart, press relations for the governor. “The governor has always pushed for more funding for community colleges.”

The current funding system has been in place since 1988, and it focuses on full-time students who spend at least 15 hours a week at school. The new funding system takes into account local unemployment rates, the number of full time equivalent (FTE) students, and fixed operating costs.

The additional funds have no restrictions, and will be up to the district to use as they see fit. If the bill passes, there will be more funding for faculty and student programs, such as the learning center and the new student activities building.