Governor Gray Davis signed the California State Budget for the 2002-2003 fiscal year, on September 5th, ending a two-month stalemate over fiscal policy. This year has been one of three times in the past 50 years that the state of California has faced a budget shortfall. This has been a tough challenge for Davis as he attacked the $2.4 billion shortfall resulting in cuts made in most government expenditures. Davis stated in a press release given on the day it was signed, “It is not a perfect document. But, in these difficult economic times, it reflects a commitment to both common sense and common values.”
While Davis has stated from the beginning of the budget debate that education was in his highest priority, higher education received a $19 million cut in the 2002-2003 budget. This could be extremely devastating to many higher education programs that already experienced cuts in the 2001-2002 budget. Some of those programs, which are actively used on the Yuba College Campus, include E.O.P.&S., Economic Development, Transfer Education, Articulation and Student Aid. Additionally, the budget cuts come at a bad time for the California Community College System as it is currently experiencing a 3 percent rate of student growth, according to the Governor’s budget summary.
Though the $19 million cuts may seem insurmountable, they are small when compared to the total of $235 million in funding that Davis vetoed. Higher education is now the third largest expenditure of the California State Budget, using 12.7 percent of state funds. This is largely due to the fact that Davis insisted on protecting education along with public safety, children’s health insurance and vital programs for seniors. In his September 5, press release Davis stated, “We met the challenge of a $24 billion shortfall while not retreating one inch on our commitment to education.”