The California Legislature and the Governor have recessed for the term and will return to session in early January, 1999. The Governor signed several bills and many more remain on his desk awaiting his signature. He had until September 30, 1998 to either sign or veto those bills currently on his desk. Included in the legislation already signed by the Governor are the Budget Bills, AB 1656 and SB 1391, which provide, along with other state allocations, the community colleges $95 million for growth in enrollment and $74 million for inflation. The Trailer Bill, AB 1564, which included $100 million for the so-called Partnership For Excellence, was also signed and provides for the allocation of funds based on the statewide ratio of actual FTES (Full-Time Equivalent Students) served for the preceding fiscal year. Furthermore, the proposal is seen as an investment by the State to supplement funding for growth and cost-of-living adjustment enhancements that will improve student success and make progress toward the system goals, which shall include, but not be limited to, programs that assist students through remediation, tutoring, and mentoring. Specific goals would include areas of transfer, degrees and certificates, successful course completion, workforce development, and basic skills improvement, with the number of goals not exceed ten (10). Funds provided to districts shall not be considered program improvement funds and shall only be spent to improve student learning and success.. In addition, funds from SB 1564 are subject to appropriation in the Annual Budget Act and the bill requires the Board Of Governors to use the consultation process to develop one or more contingent funding allocation options and criteria that would link achievement of and progress toward goals by individual districts to funding allocation of the Partnership For Excellence. These funding options may be determined necessary to either improve system performance or to reward significant or sustained achievement. The Chancellor's Office shall seek the concurrence of the Director of Finance, the Legislative Analyst, and CPEC in developing the contingent funding allocation options and criteria for implementation. Additional information concerning this program will be available at the Academic Senate's Fall Plenary Session and in the Academic Senate Office in Sacramento.
The Governor has also signed AB 521, which provides for a student enrollment fee reduction from $13 per unit to $12 per unit as of August 4, 1998. The original legislation had the reduction beginning with the 1998-99 fiscal year, which commenced on July 1, 1998. Districts were advised to charge students the higher fee during the summer months and the lower fee starting with the fall 1998 term. The Academic Senate has consistently supported fee reductions for our students and we are encouraged by this effort and result.
AB 1647 was signed by the Governor and authored by Assemblyman Jack Scott. This bill changes the term used to decide termination of community college faculty from "incompetence" to "unsatisfactory performance." The bill states that terminations would not supersede peer evaluation and due process. The Academic Senate opposed the concept of this legislation but it was signed and supported by the Legislature and the Governor.
The Governor also signed SB 1945 which permits the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) to create a new Home Loan program where teacher retirement benefits may be used for mortgage loans. The Academic Senate felt that the legislation would be beneficial for faculty during retirement.
There are several other retirement bills on the Governor's desk that he has not signed. Included are the following:
AB 1102, which allows faculty and staff who are hired after January 1, 1998 to use their unused accrued sick leave for STRS/PERS service credit.
AB 1166, provides minimum standards to compute community college part-time faculty service credit.
AB 2804, provides funding for retirement benefit packages that will increase the age factor beyond age 60; increases benefits for teaching 30 years; protects the 75% purchasing power in future years; and authorizes STRS to study the offering of health benefits.
The Governor's signature was not required on SCR 71, which declares legislative intent that the CSU Trustees and UC Board adopt policies that ensure that eligible community college students are accepted for admission within the university system. The bill has no money in it and only declares legislative intent, not requiring the signature of the Governor. However the Academic Senate supports the concept and commitment present in this legislation.
Also signed by the Governor:
AB 425 - Exempts community colleges from the Field Act's structural safety standards and makes construction standards subject to State Building Standards; and
AB 2214 - Requires districts to make their job market studies for establishing vocational or occupational training programs available to the public.
Finally, the Governor has signed AB 2609, which clarifies that the ban on the possession of firearms on college campuses also applies to associated student housing.
The additional bills on the Governor's desk that he has not signed and may not decide until the deadline are the following:
AB 499 - Civil action discrimination complaints may be enforced through civil action for damages.
AB 2398 - Provides $11 million to equalize community college non-credit apportionment rates with K-12 Adult Education and $35 million to equalize the base funding of low-revenue districts.
AB 954 - Provides that parttime faculty who have taught each regular quarter or semester in the current and preceding four consecutive academic years, shall have preferred right to future reappointment for part-time faculty positions.
AB 1643 - Continues to outlaw age discrimination.
AB 2429 - Awards grants to community college districts, administered by the Chancellor's Office, to develop internships for high-technology industries and curriculum training for registered nurses in specialized fields.
AB 2554 - Provides that every community college student who attains an AA or AS degree in liberal arts or general studies and meets transfer course and GPA requirements shall have the highest priority for admissions to the CSU and UC systems.
SB 1481 - Authorizes community college employees to request corrections in personnel files and deletion of inaccurate, irrelevant, incomplete information.
SB 1665 - Authorizes the Board of Governors to approve a new community college district within the Desert Community College District.
SB 1735 - Permits community colleges to engage in public sector outreach programs that may include focused outreach and recruitment of minority groups and women.
SB 1740 - Establishes Statewide Service Learning Centers at public and private colleges and universities.
SB 1744 - States that the State Job Training Coordinating Council, in collaboration., must develop state work force development plans and submit to the Governor and the Legislature by October 1999.
SB 2085 - Combines the community colleges part-time faculty Cash Balance STRS retirement plan with the Defined Benefit Plan.