Budget News/Town Hall Reminder

May 20, 2009 

An important reminder: There will be a Budget Town Hall at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, May 21) in Conference Rooms A&B.

The failure yesterday of the major state propositions has forced an intense debate in Sacramento regarding the state's fiscal future. The governor has proposed a set of budget reductions that would have a profound effect on most state programs, and these include deep cuts to the community colleges. Among his proposals are immediate cuts to both our general apportionment and our categorical programs.

The governor's proposals are aimed at bridging a $21.5 billion gap between state revenues and projected state spending, and do not currently include tax increases to help bridge that gap. Insofar as the state has already enacted a 2009-10 budget, his proposals are amendments to that budget and must be approved by the legislature with a 2/3 vote.

We cannot speculate on how the legislature will find solutions when a small minority of its membership has the ability to control the final outcome. This makes it extremely hard to plan our own options. But there is no one who believes that we will escape deep cuts to our state funds. Newly appointed Interim Chancellor Mike Brandy and the district's financial team are in Sacramento today at the Association of Chief Business Officers (ACBO) meeting and are assessing the likely impact on the district. Currently, our best estimates for De Anza's reduction range between $9 million and $14 million.

While I am doubtful that the governor's proposals for 47% cuts to categorical programs will ultimately pass, I cannot ignore the broader warning: We will have to plan now for severe reductions in state support, while maintaining our commitment to the most vulnerable among our students.

I am asking that all categorical program managers limit their current spending to absolute necessities, as any balances they have this year will be carried forward into next. I am further asking managers in all programs to review their program plans for the rest of this academic year with the goal of eliminating all spending unless required for program continuity to the end of the year. These moves will provide only marginal savings at this late juncture, but every dime will count as we try to assemble a budget for next year.

We will host a Town Hall tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Conference Rooms A&B to review the parameters of our budget crisis and begin the conversation regarding our options. Our district leadership will join us, and I urge everyone to attend.

We will provide detailed budget information as soon as we have it, and I assure you that the college will respond to this next crisis with thoughtfulness and care.

We live with a fundamental contradiction: Our students and their families need us more than ever, precisely when the state cannot fund us adequately to meet the needs of these students. Our professional staff, faculty and administrators are caught in the middle of this contradiction, deeply committed to the students and also trying to balance budgets with a minimal loss of staffing and support. Without knowing how the state will ultimately decide our budget, I can pledge to you the most open and fair budget process we can muster, and an honest discussion about how we can keep ourselves whole and reinvent ourselves where we must. 

Brian Murphy

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