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CA budget could trigger major education cuts

June 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
If projected revenues fall short in California's newest spending plan, schools could still face billions more in cuts.

Democrats used their new majority-vote authority to pass the budget late Tuesday night, and Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign it by Friday.

If the revenue projections fall short, it will trigger up to $2.5 billion in additional spending cuts to schools and other programs in the middle of the fiscal year. That would include authorizing school districts to shorten the school year by seven days, increasing community college fees, cutting $100 million more from in-home support services and slashing $250 million from school bus transportation.

It also would mean additional cuts to the University of California and California State University systems. Once a model for the nation, the state's four-year systems of higher education already face $1.3 billion in cuts for the coming fiscal year.

Students on Cal State campuses say the $650 million cut to the system inside the Democrats' budget is devastating.

"I'd have to take out more student loans, which is something that no one wants to do," said Nelly Kzylyan, a student at Cal State Los Angeles. "You don't know what's going to happen in the future. Even with a degree nowadays, finding the job is hard."

Financial aid officers say students are already stressed to the limit.

"With the cuts, I believe they will just literally run out of money," said financial aid advisor Benny Rios.

At Cal State L.A., tuition is $1,460 a quarter right now, but because of a previous increase, it will hit $1,836 a quarter in the fall. Now, it's likely to rise again.

"Every since I started here, every year, they just raise the tuition. It just makes it more difficult," said James Aguilar, a Cal State L.A. student.

But some students said compared to other states, it's still a bargain.

"Coming from out of state to here, like I did, the tuition is so low, It's amazing," said Terence Traughber; a Cal State L.A. student from Missouri.

UC campuses are dealing with a potential $650 million cut of their own.

"Because cuts of this magnitude inevitably will drive up tuition for public universities and their families, we cannot stand silent," said a statement from the office of the UC president.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said the new spending plan was unlikely to affect the LAUSD budget.

"Our cuts hold, I don't see any new cuts," he said.

The Democratic budget assumes California will collect $4 billion in previously unexpected tax revenue. If not, automatic cuts to the K-12 classroom kick in.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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