It has been less than a month since Jerry Brown’s inauguration as California’s governor and tackling the state budget has been his first act as governor.
Every year the governor and the legislatures collaborate to pass a state budget that decides how our taxes will be spent on services such as education, the environment and corrections and rehabilitation.
However, with a deficit of $25.4 billion, Brown and the state legislatures will have to make difficult decisions to reduce the debt.
“These cuts will be painful, requiring sacrifice from every sector of the state, but we have no choice,” Brown said on his website. “For 10 years, we’ve had budget gimmicks and tricks that pushed us deep into debt. We must now return California to fiscal responsibility and get our state on the road to economic recovery and job growth.”
Currently, Brown’s budget proposes a total spending of $127.4 billion for the 2011-12 fiscal year and out of this amount, $84.6 billion is proposed for the General Fund.
$1 billion is proposed to be cut for funding higher education. The University of California system faces $500 million in funding reductions and the California State University system face another $500 million. Community colleges are on the chopping block as well.
“There is going to be significant [financial] pain in the higher education system,” Professor of Law, Ethics and Humanities Daniel Skubik said. “These additional cuts will cause shrinkage in enrollment and increased tuition.”
Over the next 18 months, the governor’s budget projects the deficit at $25.4 billion.
“To immediately deal with the deficit by cutting and raising taxes are the two quickest and best ways in short term,” Skubik said. “However long term, we can’t continue cutting, we can’t continue raising taxes. We need to expand employment opportunities and expand in business and commerce. The current deficit problems do need immediate attention as well as long term attention.”
Governor Brown’s website states that he called for $12.5 billion in spend- ing cuts in order to close the deficit, including reductions in welfare, social services and higher education, along with $12 billion in funding shifts and new revenue if voters agree to extend taxes.
“As governor, he can cut spending but he can’t raise taxes unless we [voters] give the okay,” Associate Professor of Political Science Patricia Kircher said. “However, there is a possibility that if voters do not approve tax increase, Brown will be in the same predicament that Schwarzenegger was in with an unbalanced budget and huge deficit.”
According to the Huffington Post, Brown stated that his spending plan for the fiscal year is intended to end the state’s continual deficits and balance the budget for the next several years without having to borrowing money.
Even though California Baptist University is a private institution, the impact of what has and will happen to public institutions can be felt.
“The effects we feel are largely positive,” Skubik said. “Given that the number of places available in the public system are limited, those who want an education are going to have to come to private institutions. Even though the cost of education in public institutions is rising, students will probably go to private universities.”
Now that public universities are shutting doors, private universities have the advantage of having open doors.
“Private institutions are going to look a little less expensive than in the past just because the public institutions are so limited and are becoming more expensive,” Skubik said. “Through this, CBU actually becomes more attractive. I think we’ve seen that in recent years and that is one of the reasons why our numbers have grown to almost 5,000 students. The President’s [Ellis] goal of reaching 8,000 by the year 2020 is probably quite achievable.”
Since this is the first draft of the budget, nothing has been finalized yet. Whether Brown’s plan is effective or not depends on how the people of California will vote later this year.