Despite Deficit, Governor Newsom’s Revised 2023-34 Budget Protects Key Higher Ed Investments, But Outcome for Long-Term Promises Remain Unknown
“Amidst a growing deficit and continued fiscal uncertainty, California college students, institutions, and other higher education stakeholders were braced for the difficult decisions that the Governor may have to make in his revised state budget for 2023-24. Through a combination of budgetary efforts, funding delays, and some downward adjustments, today’s proposal is less severe than many feared it would be. However, the revisions reflect real retrenchment as the state fiscal reality has shifted from historic surplus to significant deficit and as large amounts of federal COVID relief funding phase out.
“With a focus on what current and future college students in California need most, we continue to underscore the importance of investing any available resources in the Cal Grant as the state’s most targeted, need-based financial aid program. The Governor, state Legislators, and student advocates have been focused on the promise to fully fund and implement Cal Grant Reform, which is currently slated for May 2024 if fiscal conditions allow. As fiscal uncertainty and budgetary constraints continue, it is imperative that the Governor and Legislature take action to protect their ability to fulfill the promise of Cal Grant reform and prioritize the students with the highest need first.
“The revised budget continues to include an investment to grow base funding for the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) through their multiyear Compacts, as well as an upward Prop. 98 cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) and spending flexibility on key student support programs for the California Community Colleges (CCC) Roadmap. While these key investments are included in the May Revision to help each segment meet their goals as promised in their respective Compact/Roadmap, we must not lose sight of the continued enrollment decline at the CCCs and ensure that the proposed one-time funding decreases do not impede the segment’s ongoing student enrollment and retention efforts.
“We recognize the Governor’s long-term commitment to student housing in light of fiscal uncertainty. Any potential delays to student housing funds could further exacerbate affordability, access, and success gaps for our most vulnerable students who continue to struggle with housing insecurity. Investing in building affordable student housing is a critical and necessary part of a long-term approach to meet students’ basic needs, lower college costs, make college accessible for our neediest students, and ultimately achieve California’s 70 percent postsecondary attainment goal. Moving forward, we hope that state policymakers will keep that promise to our students at all three public segments.
“California’s students and public colleges and universities are central in building the workforce of tomorrow. We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Newsom’s administration and the Legislature to ensure that the final 2023-24 state budget agreement prioritizes our most vulnerable students during these difficult fiscal times.”