January begins the New Legislative Year

Dan Crump, Governmental and Legislative Relations Committee Chair

Ah! Winter, and a young man's (and woman's) fancy turns to...the Legislature? Well, maybe not, but this is an interesting time of the year in Sacramento. We had the general election in November---re-elected the governor (four more years of cigars and strudel), approved bonds (1D will be helping a lot of our districts with new facilities) and, wonders of wonders, even voted out some incumbent legislators.

This is also the beginning of a new legislative session for the California State Assembly and Senate. The legislators came back in December (lots of cute pictures of cute kids sitting at their mom's or dad's desk), introduced some bills, went home for the holidays, and then came back in January to introduce more bills. In the first several weeks of January, more than 400 bills were placed into consideration, and more are coming each day. I have attended several legislative workshops already and have been getting the scoop on some things coming down the pike. We expect to see bills on accountability, nursing education, concurrent enrollment, the high school exit exam (CAHSEE), and economic and workforce development. Many of the bills introduced are "spot bills"---placeholders with temporary language that the legislator will expand on later when more input is gathered through discussions with other legislators, advocates and testimony at legislative hearings.

It is interesting and very heartening to note that legislators with community college backgrounds are in positions of leadership in both houses. It is notable that both budget committees are chaired by former members of local community college boards---John Laird (Cabrillo College) in the Assembly and Denise Moreno Ducheny (San Diego CCD) in the Senate. In addition, Jack Scott (former president of both Cypress and Pasadena City Colleges) continues as chair of the Senate Education Committee and chair of the Budget subcommittee for education. Each election also brings new faces to the capital. We especially welcome Anthony Portantino and Julia Brownley. Mr. Portantino is a freshman legislator from La Caada Flintridge---he asked for, and got, the chairmanship of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. Ms. Brownley (Santa Monica) is a former member of a K-12 school board and is chair of the Assembly budget subcommittee on education finance. I look forward to working with both of them---my sister-in-law is a councilmember in southern California and gives Mr. Portantino top marks; and a faculty colleague of mine at Santa Monica College has nothing but the highest praise for Ms. Brownley.

The capital has also been abuzz with talk about the Governor's Proposed State Budget, which was introduced in early January. Many have said that this looks like a good year for the community colleges. At first look that might be, but faculty leaders have been unified (and very correct) in their observations that faculty concerns (funding for new full-time faculty hires and part-times issues such as office hours and health benefits) were not addressed in the budget. As many have said, this is only the beginning of the budget process. The official deadline for approval of the state budget is not until June (after the updated revenue projections of the May Revise) and we will engage in a lot of dialogue with the Legislature and the Administration to educate them about faculty funding priorities. Fasten your seatbelts for another exciting ride on the Legislative Express!

This article went to press before the deadline for legislators to introduce bills for this year. For information and updates on legislation of interest to faculty, please check the Academic Senate's legislative webpage at http://www.asccc.org/Legislative/LegTracking/legTracking.asp and the state's bill page at www.leginfo.ca.gov. We will also be sending out ASCCC Legislative Updates and Alerts throughout the year to local faculty leaders.

The articles published in the Rostrum do not necessarily represent the adopted positions of the academic senate. For adopted positions and recommendations, please browse this website.