We asked leaders from California’s institutions, policy and advocacy organizations for their thoughts on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s postsecondary budget proposal. Their responses are presented below in no particular order. Scroll down and click on the photos to read their thoughts on the governor’s plans for postsecondary education. Also see what education leaders are saying about the governor’s early education and K-12 proposals.

Andrew Nickens

Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC)

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

This budget shows a clear and resounding commitment to community college students. Overall, the governor ambitiously addresses community college affordability with one-time and ongoing investments totaling more than $400 million. These investments will help address the nightmare many of our students are facing by providing early action emergency aid grants, support for students’ basic needs and funding to retain and enroll students. Beyond this, we are thankful for proposing to aggressively pay down deferrals which have short-changed our colleges and have led to cuts for many critical programs our neediest students rely on.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

While we appreciate the governor’s proposal, we need to ensure that one-time funding doesn’t become a one-time commitment. Infrastructure like basic needs centers, mental health counselors and broadband is needed to meet the needs of students and bridge the digital divide. This true commitment to students will require the Legislature to go beyond one-time funding and make ongoing investments that will meet students’ needs in the long run. Precipitous drops in enrollment are a symptom of a basic needs crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and continues to disproportionately impact low income students and students of color. If the Legislature doesn’t get serious about supporting students, California community colleges will cease to function as an engine of economic recovery and this recession will be harmfully prolonged.

Andrew Nickens is a student at Folsom Lake College and vice president of Legislative Affairs, Student Senate for California Community Colleges. 

Eloy Oakley

California Community Colleges Chancellor

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

This budget proposal puts students first. We commend the recognition that community college students have been the most affected population in higher education and the steps to address the growing need by investing in emergency aid. The California Community Colleges are guided by the Vision for Success, a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate equity gaps. We look forward to conversations to aligning our action plans to fully close equity gaps.

The ensuing health, economic and civic crises reinforce the need to advance our work to end systemic racism in our state and nation. As budget conversations evolve, we’ll emphasize the need for investments in diversity, equity and inclusion. The governor is putting an emphasis on workforce development and support for small businesses. California Community Colleges are key to these efforts and stand ready to get Californians back to work.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

Even before Covid-19, too many California community college students were struggling with basic needs insecurities. Covid-19 has further exposed economic and social disparities. Our students need more than ever Cal Grant reform which covers their total cost of attendance and doesn’t undermine financial aid to the system serving over 70% of higher education students in California.

Eloy Oakley has served as chancellor of the California Community Colleges since December 2016.

Zahraa Khuraibet

California State University Student Association

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

We are thankful to see Governor Newsom prioritize higher education and his reinvestment in the California State University (CSU). In particular the proposed $30 million in emergency financial aid, $15 million for digital equity and mental health services, $15 million for the Basic Needs Initiative and the extension of the Summer Financial Aid program. This truly shows a commitment to needs of students and access to basic needs.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

While we are pleased that there is a prioritization of student affordability challenges there is a need for an ongoing investment in basic needs. This is absolutely critical in conjunction with a basic needs reform to ensure that current and future students have access to resources they need to succeed and to further close the equity gaps.

Zahraa Khuraibet is a masters’ student at CSU Northridge and president of the California State Student Association, representing the students of the California State University system.

Joseph I. Castro

California State University Chancellor

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

It’s clearly student-focused with a much-needed equity lens to ensure that each student, regardless of their background, has access to resources and tools they need to be successful. It also recognizes the powerful role that higher education plays in the economic resiliency of the state. We agree with the governor that one of the major reasons that businesses stay in California is because of our higher education institutions. We are pleased to play this critically important role for the state and appreciate the governor’s recognition of it.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

The CSU is encouraged by the governor’s budget proposal. We would, of course, like the Legislature to add recurring dollars to our budget that was significantly reduced last year, so we can continue to prepare career-ready graduates. Having improved our four-year graduation rate by 63%, moving from 19% to 31% since 2016, is a remarkable accomplishment and an unparalleled return on investment. But our work is unfinished, as we must eliminate equity gaps to reduce the disparities in educational attainment between different groups of students. With the social unrest and economic upheaval that California communities are experiencing, there has never been a more important investment or area of focus.

Joseph I. Castro is chancellor of the California State University.

Aidan Arasasingham

University of California Student Association

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

Students spoke, and Governor Newsom listened. He heard the unprecedented struggles that UC students are facing under the triple pandemics of Covid-19, high costs and systemic racism — and his budget reflects his commitment to addressing these challenges. The proposed 3% permanent funding increase for UC is a good start to help strengthen core educational programs for all students. This, coupled with targeted investments in basic needs, digital equity, financial aid and mental health, will greatly benefit UC’s most marginalized students. And in a moment when students and families are struggling, Governor Newsom’s rejection of tuition increases and support for financial aid expansion is an especially important commitment.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

Governor Newsom’s budget is a strong foundation for the Legislature to build on. Looking forward, our top priority is to see UC funding cuts from last year restored as proposed by Senate and Assembly leadership. We’d like to see a continuation of last year’s one-time financial aid support for undocumented students, who remain ineligible for many federal programs. And as students return to campus in the fall, further investments in preventative mental health screening and the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students are vital to protect UC access and equity.

Aidan Arasasingham is a student at UCLA who serves as the president of the University of California Student Association.

Michael Drake

President of the University of California

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

Gov. Newsom’s budget provides $136.3 million of new ongoing support to the University of California, including $103.9 million to partly restore the $300.8 million in reductions made last year to UC. The proposal also includes $32.4 million for ongoing targeted investments in other areas, such as expanding access for student mental health services and supporting UC Programs in Medical Education (UC PRIME), which combine specialized coursework and training experiences that allow future physicians to better support underserved populations.

In addition, the governor’s budget provides $225.3 million in one-time funding, including $175 million for deferred maintenance and energy efficiency projects and $20 million for UC’s California Institutes for Science and Innovation (CISI), which advance cutting-edge research and technologies that are crucial to the state’s economy.

We thank Gov. Newsom for these critical investments in UC students and California’s future, especially given the fiscal uncertainty during Covid-19. We will collaborate with the governor and Legislature in the months ahead to secure additional funding and continue our University’s vital work of expanding access and affordability for California students, delivering quality health care and driving the state’s economic recovery

The statement is from Michael Drake, president of the University of California, and UC Board of Regents Chair John Pérez.

Charles Toombs

California Faculty Association

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

We appreciate his continued investment in higher education, especially his call for no tuition increases. We think this is a good start, but additional conversations with the governor and Legislature are needed to explain and to address the needs our faculty and students will have when we return to face-to-face instruction. We are pleased the governor recognizes that returning to regular instruction requires funding to address technological access for students, and to address emergency assistance grants many of our low-income and other students will need in returning to face-to-face learning. So, we are encouraged by the governor’s initial budget proposal.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

Because the health and safety of students, faculty and staff are foremost as we are scheduled to resume face-to-face instruction in this fall, the governor and Legislature also need to make available additional funding for health and safety measures (like adequate access to personal protective equipment, clean surfaces, fresh air circulation/ventilation, sanitation, reconfigured teaching and office spaces, mental health services/additional counselors) so faculty, students and staff can return to campuses safely. We hope to work with the governor and the Legislature to address these concerns, as well as to provide funding to assist the CSU in the implementation of AB 1460. Events last week make it clear how important an Ethnic Studies graduation requirement is: Education is key to understanding and accurate knowledge. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it clear that people of color and working-class people, including our students and their families, have been impacted the most. Our students need the campus resources to continue the pursuit of their dreams and to receive the quality education our faculty always deliver.

Charles Toombs is president of the California Faculty Association and professor of Africana Studies at San Diego State University.

Su Jin Gatlin Jez

California Competes

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

We’re impressed with the governor’s attention to higher education and workforce alignment. The proposed $250 million one-time investment to support workforce development and strengthen the connection between higher education and employment will help students secure better-paying jobs after graduation.

Another highlight is the governor’s decision to prioritize more equitable access to online education. During and after the pandemic, quality online education will be a key driver of degree completion. Now is the time to ensure Black, Latinx and Indigenous Californians, as well as rural residents, have the technology and connectivity they need to pursue higher education.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

While it’s important to note that the budget proposal includes an increase of $35 million in ongoing investments to add 9,000 Cal Grant Competitive awards, which serve older, low-income adult students, many more Californians could benefit from this award. Given how many uncredentialed adults have lost their jobs due to our economic recession and the focus on improving higher education’s alignment with workforce, which will attract more older students, we suggest that the Legislature consider investing in more significant reforms to the Cal Grant. These reforms include improving financial aid for older adults and establishing equity in aid between community college students and UC and CSU students.

Su Jin Gatlin Jez, Ph.D. is executive director of California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy, a higher education and workforce policy research organization.

Marlene L. Garcia

California Student Aid Commission

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

The governor’s proposed budget demonstrates his commitment to making college affordable for students, despite the fiscal challenges faced by the state. Not only does the proposed Budget maintain our existing financial aid programs, it also includes proposals with new one-time and ongoing funding that would both help students overcome Covid-19 this year, as well as position our state aid system to better support student success as part of the state’s growth and recovery from this recession. Also included in this proposal, is a significant new requirement that local educational agencies confirm all high school seniors completed a FAFSA or CADAA, beginning in the 2021-22 academic year.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

The Student Aid Commission will continue to partner with policymakers to respond to students’ growing needs, ensuring financial aid remains accessible to students throughout the Covid-19 crisis and beyond. As part of that effort, the Commission looks forward to further discussions on Cal Grant modernization and adoption of an “Equity Framework” as the first step to align state financial aid with recent federal policy changes, better support students and position the program for greater investment. A Cal Grant program that better reflects the needs of today’s students will be a critical resource to California’s economic growth and recovery.

Marlene L. Garcia is executive director of the California Student Aid Commission, the principal state agency responsible for administering financial aid programs for students attending public and private universities, colleges and vocational schools in California.

Kim Wilcox

UC Riverside Chancellor

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

We’re grateful that proposed higher education spending is heading back in the right direction, and we thank Gov. Newsom for that. I am especially appreciative of the governor’s proposed investment in a new UC Program in Medical Education for Native American communities, which is particularly needed at this time. But I must note that this proposed budget, if passed, would restore only about a third of the deep cuts implemented last year. The reductions to our core budget, coupled with the impacts of Covid-19, will continue to present significant financial challenges for institutions like UC Riverside.

Kim Wilcox has served as UC Riverside Chancellor since August 2013. 

Vincent Stewart

California STEM Network

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

While the governor’s proposed budget includes much-needed increases to the core operating budgets of the UC, CSU and Community Colleges, the overwhelming majority of new spending is one-time in nature and therefore is unlikely to result in sustained improvements in student outcomes or increased institutional capacity. The reality is that our public colleges and universities are still recovering from the Great Recession of the early 2000s and the costs to students and families continue to rise. Given the unexpected surge in state revenues, I would have expected a significantly higher and sustained investment in all of public education.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

Greater ongoing investment in need-based financial aid. Additionally, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are just beginning to reveal themselves and currently enrolled students will need extended support to address learning loss and ensure they successfully transfer or graduate. Our postsecondary institutions will also need resources to support incoming students who have suffered from school shutdowns, the transition to distance learning, and the upending of the college application and admissions process. The legacy of these disruptions will not be short-lived and California needs to fund our colleges and universities so students successfully transition and go on to complete their education.

Vincent Stewart serves as the executive director of the California STEM Network, a project of Children Now and a coalition of business, government, community and education partners committed to expanding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) opportunities for all children in California. 

Cynthia Larive

UC Santa Cruz Chancellor

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

Gov. Newsom’s proposal is a welcome boost, but more significant investment would be much appreciated. With additional state support, UC will be better able to drive the state’s economic recovery through our graduates and research. The targeted funding for mental health is critical. Our budgets have taken a devastating hit over the past year, but Covid has also taken a horrible toll on student well-being. Many of our students will have missed nearly a year and a half of valuable in-person interaction. That’s incredibly taxing on top of what is already a very stressful time in their lives. Ensuring our students remain on track, and that no one slips through the cracks, is imperative

Cynthia Larive has served as UC Santa Cruz Chancellor since May 2019. 

Michele Siqueiros

Campaign for College Opportunity

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

The governor is to be applauded for a proposed budget that begins to address the tremendous need resulting from a global health pandemic, racial reckoning and economic recession. Never before has a college education been so important to individuals and to the state. It will be our college-educated residents who will sustain the health care workforce and fortify our state’s economic future.

Sustaining emergency financial aid, requiring high school students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application, urging dual admissions pathways through the Associate Degree for Transfer to UC and CSU, investing in professional development that addresses cultural competency and racial inequity, and setting a 2025 goal to close equity gaps at our public universities are the type of concrete investments the state needs to turn the page on a tumultuous time.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

The Legislature should build on the plans laid out by the governor first by establishing a statewide goal for college attainment, with an explicit goal to close racial equity gaps by 2030. California needs 60% of adults to earn a degree or credential by 2030 in order to have the educated citizenry needed to meet future workforce demands.

The Legislature should also build on the opportunity to expand college affordability by laying the foundation for redesigning the Cal Grant program so that our state’s neediest students receive the aid they deserve to earn a college degree.

Michele Siqueiros is president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, a coalition of business, labor, ethnic and religious groups, and civic organizations all working together to ensure that California’s next generation of students had the opportunity to attend college.

Keith Curry

President and CEO of Compton College

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

Wow, thank you, Governor Gavin Newsom! I was extremely impressed with the proposed 2021-2022 state budget and your commitment to emergency student financial assistance, funding to address students’ basic needs related to food and housing insecurity, and funding to address retention and enrollment strategies at California community colleges. These one-time investments will provide California community colleges the opportunity to redesign our institutions during and after the Covid-19 pandemic to address our students’ success. I am also pleased with the funding to provide instructional materials for dual enrollment students. The 2021-22 state budget provides my higher education colleagues and me with hope for the future in California and the services we will provide to our current and future students.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

I am very grateful for Governor Newsom’s proposed budget. However, I do have a couple of recommendations for the Legislature. First, commit to funding California community colleges and the construction of student housing on our campuses. Second, it is time for the Legislature to examine the structural inequities in state funding at community colleges compared to the California State University and University of California systems. Especially when you consider the number of low income, African American/Black and Latinx students who attend California community colleges compared to the California State University and University of California systems. Finally, the Legislature needs to commit funding to provide support services to employees during and after the Covid-19 pandemic — support services, including addressing basic needs, mental health and professional development for staff.

Keith Curry is president and CEO of Compton College, a community college in Compton, California.

Joel Vargas

Jobs for the Future

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

There is a heartening emphasis on meeting students’ basic needs during this confluence of crises. Providing funds for food and housing, technology access, mental health resources and emergency financial assistance are critical to college success for historically underserved populations, including Black, Latinx and Indigenous students as well as young people experiencing homelessness, foster students and students from immigrant families. This should compel colleges to deepen and expand their cross-sector partnerships as key hubs linking education and workforce development with housing providers, state and local government programs, and health and human services agencies.

Also, expanding apprenticeships and work-based learning — among other investments to improve linkages between education institutions and employers — will help strengthen and create new paths to good jobs. Moreover, investments in broadband access will help reduce the digital divide, building infrastructure for improved education outcomes and a more inclusive economic recovery for all.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

Our education systems are making hard-won incremental improvements but still show stubborn racial and socio-economic inequities in outcomes. While the governor’s proposed funding is important, we also need investments to successfully transition away from 20th Century education delivery to delivery that takes into account the cognitive and cultural diversity of learners, new instructional approaches and tools, competency-based (not seat time-based) advancement and pathways that accelerate the transition from high school through college and careers. For as much as Covid required our traditional education systems to make heroic shifts toward such strategies to meet the moment, it also revealed big gaps in their ability to do so well, and we cannot be lulled into a false sense that everything will be fine when things are “back to normal.”

Joel Vargas is vice president of programs at Jobs for the Future a nonprofit that drives change in the American workforce and education systems to achieve economic advancement for all.

Francisco Rodriguez

Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

I am most impressed with the “equity-mindedness” of the governor’s proposed budget and where investments are being made. While the state’s economic recovery is much better than the early projections, it has been uneven and lopsided, favoring the wealthy and worsening the environment for least capable of navigating it. This proposed budget for education makes a firm and responsible commitment to address the gross inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic. The proposal identifies specific resources to aid the needs of the most vulnerable student populations, who make up the lion share community college enrollments, through expansion of financial aid and direct aid for food and housing insecurity, and technology access.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

I would like to see additional financial support for the implementation of ethnic studies at community colleges that was signed into law last fall (AB 1460). Ethnic Studies has inspired generations of students, community leaders and educator activists, with the skills, with the self-determination to return with degrees in hand to lift our communities.

Also, if state revenues allow, I would recommend transitioning the one-time funding in the proposed budget to ongoing support. California’s Community Colleges are uniquely positioned to assist the State in transitioning towards an equitable economic recovery model where greater equity is achieved through access, educational opportunity and workforce development. To achieve this, our community college districts require sufficient and consistent budgeting from the state that provides us organizational stability, predictability and flexibility.

Francisco Rodriguez is the chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District.

Jen Mishory

The Century Foundation

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

We are pleased to see that the governor’s budget proposal centers California’s underserved students. Additional Cal Grant competitive awards, Cal Grant Access awards for former and current foster youth, and emergency aid for low-income students will all play important roles in reducing the significant equity gaps in California college affordability, which have never been in clearer focus than they are during the pandemic. Looking ahead, we’re also hopeful that Governor Newsom and the Legislature will prioritize and invest the dollars needed for structural improvements to the Cal Grant program, particularly those that will increase financial aid for the state’s community college students.

The budget proposal also includes a requirement that all high school seniors complete a FAFSA, a policy being tested in a handful of states across the country. Such a policy can bring millions of dollars in Pell Grants to the state’s most high-need students, so long as the state provides adequate resources to schools to support students and ensures flexibility for students and schools. We’re eager to work with the governor and Legislature to ensure the details of such a policy work for all students.

Jen Mishory is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, which researches models that promise to achieve greater racial and socioeconomic diversity and close the higher education gap.

Assemblymember Jose Medina, D-Riverside

Chair of the Higher Education Committee

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

I applaud Governor Newsom for highlighting the impacts of Covid-19 on our students and institutions of higher education. Students across the state have been negatively impacted in and outside the classroom; the governor’s budget importantly addresses: learning loss, equity gaps, digital divide, housing and mental health resources. Each of these is a key component of recovery. I am also thrilled to see a $5 million one-time General Fund support so our educators have the proper tools to support the implementation of our bill, AB 101, requiring high schools to provide ethnic studies as a graduating course.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

The governor’s budget sets aside funds to expand financial aid for students, including increasing the number of Competitive Cal Grant awards and restoring Cal Grant A for those impacted by the pandemic. These investments represent strategic steps in increasing financial assistance for tuition, but Cal Grant needs to be reformed into a modernized system that ensures the state can further assist students with not just their tuition costs, but the total cost of earning their college degree.

Jose Medina, D-Riverside, is chairman of the Higher Education Committee of the California State Assembly. 

Monica Lozano

College Futures Foundation

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education? 

Budgets are a reflection of values, and this budget clearly conveys the governor’s commitment to the role higher education will and must play in an equitable and inclusive economic recovery — connecting higher education to employment opportunities and providing a variety of complementary resources to ensure that more low-income students and students of color can stay in school.

First, this budget seeks to alleviate the multiple, compounded burdens low-income students and students of color have faced throughout the pandemic, putting significant resources into direct student supports such as emergency financial assistance, financial aid access, technology, mental health services and basic needs. It places particular emphasis on retention and enrollment strategies at the community colleges, which serve as a gateway to a degree for so many, and where we have seen dramatic declines. Finally, it invests substantially in the alignment between higher education and workforce, sending a clear message to the higher education segments that they must organize themselves more effectively for students’ future job opportunities and economic mobility.

As a foundation committed to equity in postsecondary access, retention and completion for socioeconomic mobility and a more inclusive society, we couldn’t be more pleased with Governor Newsom’s budget proposal for 2021-22.

Monica Lozano is president and CEO of College Futures Foundation, which works to catalyze systemic change, increase college degree completion and close equity gaps so that the dream of opportunity can become a reality available to every student — regardless of zip code, skin color, or income.

Evan Hawkins

Faculty Association of California Community Colleges

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

Highlights from the proposed budget include the amount of one time funding for items like Emergency Financial Assistance Grants, assistance for basic needs and faculty professional development. We appreciate the governor’s recognition of the struggles our students are facing on a daily basis while also acknowledging the importance of professional development to ensure our faculty can meet our students where they are at.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

FACCC has always maintained California’s community colleges can expand their online offerings to meet demand and reach stranded workers. We appreciate the governor recognizing this in the budget by expanding funding for the online education ecosystem; however, we call on the Legislature to take it a step further by defunding Calbright, the unaccredited fully online college. Reallocating Calbright’s funding could better support our accredited institutions. We also recommend the Legislature carve out support for part-time faculty who make up the bulk of our faculty, but have lost numerous assignments and been hit the hardest by declining enrollment.

Evan Hawkins is the executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.

Senator Connie Leyva, D-Chino

Chair, Senate Education Committee

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education? 

As the chair of the Senate Education Committee and the past chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, I applaud the budget’s proposed historic funding for K-14 schools — $85.8 billion in Proposition 98 funding for K-12 schools and community colleges. Clearly, California students, families, teachers, staff, schools and districts are all under tremendous pressure stemming from the effects of the pandemic, so it is vital that funds are available to enable in-person instruction to resume — though only when it is safe to do so.

As all of these funding efforts are finalized, though, it is important that we continue to prioritize equitable solutions so that the most impacted students and districts promptly receive the assistance they need. The budget proposal’s total funding of $36.1 billion for higher education will also help to address the immediate and ongoing needs of California’s UC, CSU and community college students and schools.

Connie Leyva, D-Chino, is the chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Peter Taylor

ECMC Foundation

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

The best long-term proposal in the governor’s budget is his recommendation that CSU create a dual admission transfer pathway for Associate Degree for Transfer, or ADT, earners. For too long transfer has been opaque for students, with far too many barriers in the way of their success. Kudos to the governor for focusing attention on a much-needed solution to this problem. We also appreciate that the proposed budget for education has a notably and much-needed investment in basic needs and emergency aid, which is clearly of importance.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it? 

The pandemic has taught us that remote teaching in colleges & universities can work successfully, but there is a danger that much of what we have learned will be lost by a return to the old ways of operating in Fall 2021. I hope that the Legislature incentivizes the higher education systems to take what they have learned about on-line classes and help them transition to a hybrid format to improve student access and success.

Peter Taylor is president of ECMC Foundation, a national, postsecondary funder that aims to facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes—especially among underserved populations—through evidence-based innovation. Taylor is also a member of the CSU Board of Trustees and former chair of the board’s Education Policy Committee.

Anne Stanton

Linked Learning Alliance

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

We applaud the governor’s proposed budget, and increased investment in higher education, its focus on addressing equity gaps and strategies that reduce the time to degree completion. Through collaborations between K-12 and postsecondary educators in Linked Learning pathways, we see incredible on-the-ground innovations that strengthen the high school to college pipeline being led by bold educators each and every day. The budget provides real opportunity to lean into proven practices that link the complex education, social and economic needs of students to keep them connected to purpose and on a path to postsecondary success.

What changes would you recommend the Legislature make to it?

Our leaders have a distinct opportunity to explore effective local strategies, navigate the evidence of what is working and connect proven practices in K-12 with innovations in postsecondary to create effective policies with the greatest impact. For example, on-the-ground experience has shown us that dual enrollment is most effective when connected to strategies that drive equity, not further privilege. As policymakers look towards economic recovery, we must acknowledge that workforce development does not begin with college. Students need rigorous and relevant educational experiences that start in high school and are infused with a seamless continuum supports that articulate into postsecondary enrollment and persistence and facilitate lifelong success.

Anne Stanton is President of the Linked Learning Alliance and is the principal architect of the Linked Learning movement in California where she has worked to reinvent how high schools approach college and career preparedness in the state.

Hans Johnson

Public Policy Institute of California Higher Education Center

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for higher education?

Colleges and students have received emergency aid from the federal government, and the governor’s budget proposal provides some renewed funding for the state’s public colleges and universities. Even so, higher education in California still faces fiscal challenges, with lost revenues and increased expenses related to the pandemic. Measures to control costs should first and foremost be designed to limit the effects on student access and completion. New initiatives in the governor’s budget, such as dual admission, could provide cost-effective ways for more students to earn a college degree.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

Developing equitable and seamless pathways from high school to college and from community college to four-year colleges remains a central challenge in California. The Legislature should work with the governor to ensure sufficient student capacity, especially at UC and CSU campuses that don’t currently have enough space for qualified applicants. The governor’s proposal includes funding for a longitudinal student data system from pre-K to college and beyond. The Legislature should work with the governor to ensure the data is used to develop policies that maximize student success and to deliver information that students, parents, institutions and policymakers need.

Hans Johnson is the center director and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California Higher Education Center.

Senator Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa

Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Student Success

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education?

I am pleased that the governor has focused on the need to safely reopen our schools as soon as possible. We need to ensure that we do so in an equitable way that is mindful of the needs of all communities and students. I am especially happy to see that the governor has set aside money to extend learning time, including summer school programs and efforts to address the pandemic’s impact on student learning. His proposals to increase funding for special education and early childhood education and to provide a cost-of-living increase for the Local Control Funding Formula also have merit. On higher education, I support the governor’s proposal to block any tuition increase but I would like to see us fully fund the universities, including the CSU graduation initiative.

Steve Glazer, D-Contra Costa, is Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Student Success.

Esi Hutchful

California Budget and Policy Center

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education? 

Overall, the budget proposal indicates the administration’s concern for low-income college students most affected by the pandemic. The administration proposes funding for emergency financial assistance for low-income students who lost employment, support for students facing food and housing insecurity, resources to address inequities in digital connectivity and expanded access to student mental health services. Moreover, the budget proposes funds to bolster efforts that address a concerning decline in enrollment in California Community Colleges (CCCs) due to the effects of Covid-19. However, absent from the administration’s proposal is additional funding to expand student support services for immigrant students, including undocumented students.

Esi Hutchful is a Policy Analyst with the California Budget and Policy Center, which seeks to inform state budget and policy debates by publishing timely analyses and commentary; providing invited testimony at legislative hearings; offering regular trainings on the state budget process and fostering civic engagement, and providing public education as well as customized technical assistance.

Maria Echaveste

Opportunity Institute

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for higher education?

The governor’s proposed investments in higher education provide rays of hope in these dark times. These proposals are varied but important, from providing emergency grants to students struggling to support their families while continuing their post-secondary education, supporting the efforts of institutions to recruit and retain students, facilitating the completion and submission of financial aid forms so that low-income students can access financial resources to help them complete their higher education dreams. Equally important is the governor’s proposal to invest in workforce development including apprenticeships — we need alternate pathways to ensure more Californians obtain the skills and training necessary to unleash their potential and help build a stronger California.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

These proposals would help millions of Californians to rebuild and recover from the pain and disruption caused by the pandemic and economic tsunami. Attention, however, must be directed to effective and efficient implementation. The state’s tardy and inefficient delivery of unemployment and other assistance during this crisis and its failure to detect and address fraud exceeding millions of dollars denied too many families the help they needed. Too many Californians will only be able to climb out of poverty or subsistence-level jobs only if they can access and complete their post-secondary education. The state must remove obstacles and unnecessary barriers and hold institutions accountable for implementing these well-meaning proposals.

Maria Echaveste is president and CEO of the Opportunity Institute, which works to increase social and economic mobility and advance racial equity through partnership and collaboration with those seeking to promote systems change.

Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco

Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education? 

The governor’s proposed budget for higher education is similar to the Assembly Budget Blueprint, in that they both focus on increasing support and opportunities for students. I like seeing the funding boost his plan provides for financial aid and to community colleges that have suffered enrollment decline. He has also included money to address student mental health and technological needs — all deserve a look, as they align with our goals. I would like to see last year’s cuts to UC and CSU restored as much as possible, and give more assistance to students severely impacted by Covid-19, especially those who lost jobs and housing during the pandemic. I look forward to working with the administration in making sure the final budget gives every Californian the opportunity to pursue a brighter future.

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), is chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance.

John Affeldt

Public Advocates

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for higher education?

Compared to where we thought the state’s support for higher education would be a few months ago, it was heartening to see a proposed $786 million increase in support for the UC and CSU system all while resident tuition and fees are assumed to remain flat. Similarly, the governor is proposing to pay down most of last year’s deferrals for community colleges while offering hundreds of millions of dollars of critical new supports for low-income community college students, including $150 million in emergency financial aid, $100 million to address housing and food insecurity and $30 million for digital access.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it?

It was good to see the governor continuing the important work of building out the Cradle-to-Career Data System even during the pandemic. Tracking student progress over time, from Pre-K to higher ed to the workforce, may not be sexy but it is critical for understanding and addressing racial equity gaps in education. California remains one of only nine states without a comprehensive student data system. The Legislature should increase the proposed $15 million investment to $25 million, the upper end of the estimated need from a key workgroup. It may be the most important $25 million in this year’s education budget.

John Affeldt is managing attorney for Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination.

Elisha Smith Arrillaga

The Education Trust—West

What stands out in the governor’s proposed budget for education? 

There is no pandemic recovery without education recovery. This proposed budget is a good first step to an Equity First budget. What stood out to us was the $15 million investment for a statewide cradle-to career data system and proposal requiring all high school seniors complete a financial aid application — two proposals ETW has advocated for nearly a decade. We were also encouraged by investments to the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, to the K-12 teacher workforce, funding to address learning loss, to close the digital divide for higher education students and funding for emergency student financial aid.

What changes would you recommend that the Legislature make to it? 

For higher education, we hope that the requirement for high school seniors to complete a financial aid application be strengthened with funding. We will monitor the proposed competitive Cal Grant investments along with the anti-racism initiatives in the proposal.

Elisha Smith Arrillaga serves as the executive director of The Education Trust-West, a research and advocacy organization focused on educational justice and supporting the high achievement of all California students, with a particular focus on underserved students of color, low-income students and English learners.

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