Participants Learn About State Budget Process


Money. Money. Money. Money. The 1999-2000 California budget proposed by Governor Gray Davis last month provided a $158 million (6.9%) General Fund increase for the California Community College system ( How that amount evolved and how your college can have input into the development of the 2000-2001 California Community College system's proposed budget was the topic of a breakout session at the Fall 1998 Plenary Session of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges.

A room full of Session attendees braved the perils of a hyperactive air conditioning system that they might learn how their college and/or district could have a more formative role in advising the Chancellor, the Board of Governors, and the Consultation Council about what the system should seek in terms of its annual budget request to the Governor and the Legislature. Patrick Lenz, Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Policy and Lee Haggerty, Vice President of the Academic Senate, each did their best to demystify the timelines, the process, and the politics of creating the California Community College system's annual budget proposal.

When asked what was the best thing about the breakout session, the majority of those in the audience were very complimentary of the presenters. One person said, "Patrick answered lots of questions, he was clear, and he was patient." Another commented, "This is what we need to know. Vital information." Other comments included, "It was great to hear and learn of the time lines in the state budget process. I appreciated Patrick Lenz's open, direct, and frank manner."

On the other hand, when the participants were asked what about the breakout session demonstrated the most need for improvement, there was one consistent suggestion. "Handouts!" One participant summed up the comments of many others by writing, "This was an extremely important breakout session-loaded with information. For many of us, we ended up overloaded because we are not the expert that Lenz is, but we tried and I think all of us took away a good deal. Written materials, e.g., the timetable and budget process, web address, etc.,would have helped a good deal. But overall, this was a very good breakout session."

One purpose of this article is to provide access to some of the requested written materials related to the 2000-2001 California Community College budget development timelines and process. As a starting point, please read Chancellor Thomas J. Nussbaum's March 20, 1998 memo that was addressed to the superintendents, presidents, and boards of trustees which can be found at the California Community College Chancellor's Office website This memo describes an expanded budget development process intended to provide community college district governing boards more direct involvement in developing the 1999-2000 budget package that was proposed by the system. The writer assumes that the timelines for the 2000-2001 system budget proposal will be similar to last year. The approximate order of events will probably be:

February: Chancellor's Cabinet and the Budget Task Force meet to discuss concept recommendations for 2000-2001 California Community College budget.

March: Budget Change Proposal workshop.

April: Cabinet and the Budget Task Force meet to discuss concept recommendations for 2000-2001 California Comunity College system budget.

May: Concept recommendations for 2000-2001 budget due from California Community College Chancellor's Office divisions.

June: Responses to budget proposals due from district governing boards and other local constituencies.

July: Report to Board of Governors on budget proposals.

September: Proposed 2000-2001 California Community College system budget to the Department of Finance.

October: Cabinet, Budget Task Force, and Consultation Council meet for final revisions to budget.

November: Final 2000-2001 budget approved by the Board of Governors.

Chancellor Nussbaum is to be commended for encouraging district-level involvement in the system's annual budget package. However, our system's budget should generally not come from the top down to be responded to, but rather should grow from the local level upward and be coordinated at the system level. The local academic senates and their governing boards are legally obligated to consult with each other on the processes for institutional planning and budget development. For this reason, any workshops and breakout sessions having to do with influencing community college funding will always be of vital interest to faculty and other educational leaders. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges is committed to facilitating the efforts of local faculty senates in fulfilling their responsibility for budget processes and each of the other academic and professional matters.