Sacramento Scoop: Prop 30 Passes!
By Andra Verstraete
We have much to celebrate with the passage of Proposition 30. Community Colleges avoid $545 million in cuts, and students at GCC will not see their spring courses slashed. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. The measure won with 54% of voters in favor and 46% opposed. The initiative means that community colleges will receive $159.9 million in deferral buy down (money that is owed to us) and an additional $50 million in what is referred to as “growth" but is really restoration/access.
It is important to remember that passage of Proposition 30 does not fix the underfunding of education, but it does provide a band aid for community colleges faced with years of cuts. The tax increases are temporary, and while Prop 30 does guarantee that money will be put in an Education Protection Fund, there are specific ways in which it can be allocated and spent. It will be interesting to see what the Governor will do when he rolls out his January budget. Governor Brown has indicated that he wants to buy down debt by reversing the deferral, but community college leaders would like to see funding put into access, COLA, and categorical programs. The Governor introduces the budget for the next fiscal year on January 10, 2013.
Democrats have captured a supermajority in both houses of the legislature.
Democrats have officially secured a supermajority in the state legislature, something they haven’t done since 1883! California saw a single party supermajority under Republicans in 1933. Democrats can now raise taxes, recommend changes to the state Constitution, override vetoes, and change parliamentary rules without any Republican votes. Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez and Senate Pro-Tem Darryl Steinberg have indicated that they will be cautious with their new power. Although Democrats have 29 of the 40 Senate seats and 55 of the 80 Assembly seats, this could be short-lived. Results of the November election coupled with upcoming local elections in the spring will result in a number of members moving from the state legislature to congress or other elected positions such as city council. When this happens, their current position will need to be filled, most likely with a special election. Democrats may have a relatively short time to figure out how best to use their unilateral power.
Friday, November 30, 2012 marked the official adjournment of the 2011-12 legislative session. On Monday, December 3, the incoming legislative class of 2013 convened for its one day, constitutionally required organizational session, where dozens of newly elected and re-elected legislators were sworn in. It is also the first day of the 2013-14 legislative session when bills can be introduced. According to the Sacramento Bee, “nearly half the Assembly's seats – 38 of 80 – will be filled by freshmen. The modern high, 39, was recorded in 1934. Term limits for the incoming class will be 12 years in either house, not a maximum of six in the Assembly and eight in the Senate,” thanks to Proposition 28, passed by the voters in June, 2012.
Here’s the breakdown of members in both houses: