CAPED Legislative Alert!!
March 15, 2013
The key hearings on the community college budget for fiscal year 2013-14 will occur in just a few weeks. Assembly Budget Subcommittee 2 on Education Finance will hold its hearing on Wednesday, April 10th at 4:00 p.m. in Room 126 at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Then, on April 11th, Senate Budget Subcommittee 1 on Education will commence its hearing in room 3191 at 9:30 a.m. or upon adjournment of the Senate floor session. So, it’s time again to gear up our advocacy.
As you know, funding for community college Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) programs was cut by approximately 40 percent back in fiscal year 2009-10 and CAPED has been working diligently ever since to try to have this funding restored. Unfortunately, the state’s dire fiscal situation has made it impossible to achieve this goal so far. Now, however, with the passage of Proposition 30 at last November’s general election, there is at least some hope that, if we work hard, we can persuade the Legislature and Governor to begin the restoration of funding.
The Governor’s Budget for 2013-14 proposes approximately $600 million in new Prop. 98 support for community colleges with most of it being designated for specific purposes such as buy-down of Prop. 98 deferrals from prior years ($179 million), transferring adult education ($300 million), and funding a new distance education program ($16.9 million). Unfortunately, no funding is specifically provided for restoration of funding to DSPS or other categorical programs. Instead, the Governor proposes to provide $197 million in increased funding to community colleges, but leaves the decision about how to allocate these funds to the Board of Governors. Given the wide range of competing demands (COLA, growth, Student Success, categorical restoration, etc.), this would lead to a fierce battle within the system and most likely mean that little if any money would be provided for restoration of DSPS or other programs for disadvantaged students.
With the 40 percent reduction in DSPS funding and a 7 percent increase in the number of students served statewide, many community colleges are currently unable to meet their legal obligations to provide services and accommodations to students with disabilities. Given this grave situation, we need to let the members of the two Budget Subcommittees know that it is unacceptable to earmark funding for debt reduction and major new initiatives while leaving students with disabilities to fight for a portion of the limited amount of remaining available funds. CAPED is asking the Legislature to specifically designate at least $21.2 million for augmentation of DSPS funding in 2013-14 and to adopt budget language committing to full restoration in fiscal year 2014-15.
Getting additional resources this year is going to require a concerted effort by all CAPED members and our allies in other advocacy organizations. That’s why it is critical that the members of the Senate and Assembly Subcommittees hear from you and your students. Legislators are not going to remember one letter or one person testifying at a hearing. There has to be a flood of people keeping the message right in front of those who will make budget decisions.
While our immediate focus is on the Budget Subcommittees, it would also be helpful to contact your local legislators and the legislative leadership who will make the final decisions about the budget later this year.
I am including the CAPED budget proposal, contact info for legislators on the key committees, and a sample letter, which you can personalize to describe how the cuts are affecting students at your college. Give an example of a story of a student who dropped out of school or failed their courses because they didn’t get accommodations until half way through the semester, or not at all. Make it real.
If you can, plan to attend the hearings or send interested students to testify. The hearing of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee will take place in Room 126 in the State Capitol beginning at 4:00 p.m. on April 10th. The hearing in the Senate Subcommittee will take place the next day, April 11th, in Room 3191, beginning at 9:30 a.m. If you and/or students from your college do plan to attend, please let me know. We are planning to set up a conference call to brief those who are able to attend and testify. More information about the conference call will be distributed later.
Call, write or visit the members of the Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees. Information about how to contact them is included in the Key Legislators document which is attached.
Go to http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ type in your address and zip code, and find out who represents you and where their district office is.
Check and see if your local legislator is on either of the budget subcommittees, is the chair or vice chair of either of the budget committees, or is one of the party leaders in either house (see attached file). If so, it is even more important that you contact them.
Call their local offices and set up an appointment to talk to a staff person. It is most likely that you can meet with a staff person but if you can actually get an appointment with your representative that is even better.
Send a letter and e-mail to your representative, to the budget committee chairs and vice chairs, and to the leaders of each party in both houses expressing your concern and asking for their support for the CAPED proposal.
When you go to your appointment, bring one or two students to put a face on the problem.
Bring the CAPED budget proposal and, if possible, a one-page fact sheet about how the cuts have impacted students at your college. They don’t want to read much, so make it easy for them.
Get other state and local organizations to do these same things, on behalf of students.
Give interested students the attached alert for students and the sample student letter so they can ensure that their voices are heard in the legislative process.
Give students the information about the CFILC website YO-Youth Organizing Disabled and Proud: http:/www.yodisabledproud.org/organize/take-action-for-accommodations.php
and encourage them to defend their rights, advocate, and participate in their future.