Community Columns

Prop 92 is necessary for our colleges

Proposition 92 is important legislation for the health of the Yosemite Community College District, Modesto Junior College and our sister college, Columbia College, and the many students who hope for a quality college education in our area.

Proposition 92 creates two main changes. First, it lowers student fees for community colleges and connects any fee increases to cost-of-living increases rather than to the whims of those in Sacramento.

We are facing a fiscal crisis next year, and the last time we faced a budget deficit of this magnitude, in 2003-2004, community college fees more than doubled from $11 to $26 and we lost 305,000 students statewide.

The effect of these combined budget cuts and loss of enrollment was devastating, resulting in cut programs and student services to our area students. MJC and Columbia College's enrollment numbers dropped, and we are still struggling to come back to where we were. Due to the economic realities of the Central Valley and the foothills, when fees increase, our students are the hardest hit.

Second, Proposition 92 creates state funding stability in our already underfunded community college system. The Modesto Bee wrote (Jan. 13) that Proposition 92 elevates the "status and claim on general fund dollars" for community colleges. Instead, Proposition 92 asks for common-sense funding over a formula that has resulted in billions of lost dollars to the community college system.

Proposition 98 sets a supposed funding agreement between K-12 and our community colleges -- an 89 percent to 11 percent split. But each year the Legislature suspends the agreement, giving more to the K-12 system, and while our community colleges are slowly growing back in enrollment, the K-12 system's enrollment is slowly dropping.

Over the last 10 years, community colleges have lost approximately $4 billion in owed funding. Proposition 92 would not change K-12 funding, but would guarantee minimum funding to community colleges based on their growth numbers.

This guarantee sets aside less than 0.25 percent of the state's general fund to provide stable funding to our needy community college system. Studies show that for each $1 invested in community colleges, the result is a $3 future return to the state.

Besides choosing your presidential candidate on Feb. 5, Proposition 92 is the most important vote you will cast. Vote "yes" on Proposition 92 and support fiscal stability, increased enrollment and increased opportunities for the students of Modesto Junior College and Columbia College.

Daly is president of the Yosemite Faculty Association and Sahlman is Modesto Junior College Academic

Senate president. This piece also was signed by: Katherine Schultz, Columbia College Academic Senate president; Taylor White, president of the Associated Students of MJC; Jayme Johnson, president of the

Associated Students of Columbia College; Roe Darnell; Richard Rose; and Joan Smith.