State budget faces potential deficit

Lyndsey Taylor and Lyndsey Taylor

The state budget for the 2007-2008 fiscal year may be $726 million less in revenue than predicted, according to California’s Legislative Analyst Office in a report Feb. 21.

Community colleges, which receive a portion of the state’s budget under Proposition 98, may need to get a $172 million reduction in funding before the end of the 2006-2007 fiscal year in June to counter the projected revenue loss.

Although the estimated $726 million could potentially affect other community colleges, Santa Barbara may not need to worry. City College may not be greatly affected if the proposed budget deficit does not exceed $1 billion, according to Dr. Jack Friedlander, executive vice president of educational programs.

“The hit we take won’t be all that great,” Friedlander said. “Worse case scenario, we will receive a slight reduction in revenue.”

The revision of the state budget the analysis will not be done until May, when the revenues are clearer. Until then, California’s community colleges cannot anticipate the losses. Although the projected loss could have severe consequences in the state, Friedlander said the college is no where near cutting costs for current programs or laying off any faculty or staff.

According to Friedlander, the only setback would be the postponement of any new programs schools may be trying to implement next year.

Superintendent-President John Romo agrees.

“As of right now, we’re not facing anything immediate on new programs,” Romo said.

Friedlander added it’s too early to tell whether or not the college will be negatively affected.

However, Romo said that City College has a well-adapted system and will be prepared to fix the problem if necessary.

“We really have an excellent way of operating,” Romo said. “I don’t anticipate any major impacts right now.”

Because of Prop. 98, California public schools levels K-14 are protected from budget cuts as they are guaranteed a minimum percentage of the California state revenue.

However, because of this projected revenue loss, the portion community colleges get from the state budget may be less than previous years.