Educators Sound Off on State Budget Proposal

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Sacramento's withheld funding from schools as lawmakers squabbled for more than two months about how to close a multibillion dollar deficit. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez talked with some school administrators to gauge their responses to the budget deal.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Now that the budget stalemate may be over, State Superintendent of Schools Jack O'Connell said he's happy that schools can start getting state funds they expected a couple of months ago. But he's unhappy that the proposal includes funding cuts to public schools and community colleges.

Jack O'Connell: I'm sure the shortfall will simply be passed along to the schools again, and saying, you make those difficult cuts, and these cuts are just getting more and more difficult.

Guzman-Lopez: If lawmakers approve them, he said, those cuts would limit class sizes and cost-of-living increases to school employees. Public schools waited for state money for this fiscal year while lawmakers quarreled about whether the budget would include tax hikes.

That held up Cal Grant aid for thousands of community college students. El Camino College in Torrance tapped into other campus funds to compensate students for the missing money. In line outside El Camino's financial aid office, first-year cosmetology student Angenette Mays said her $500 Cal Grant is keeping her in school.

Angenette Mays: You ain't got a job, so you need your financial aid. To get through school.
Guzman-Lopez: How important is it?
Mays: Very important, because sometimes you ain't got money to pay your car, your bills, your rent, pay for your kids' pair of shoes.

Guzman-Lopez: El Camino financial aid director Hortance Cooper.

Hortance Cooper: Students typically need the funds when school starts. Because three or four weeks into the semester, they don't have their textbooks, you know, they haven't paid their fees, they don't have money for transportation, they're going to drop out.

Guzman-Lopez: Cooper said she's happy there's a budget deal, but she reprimanded lawmakers for withholding money the students needed. Twenty-nine-year-old Moses Nava said the budget stalemate didn't affect him. He said the daily headlines about the economy are worrying him more.

Moses Nava: I just try to keep positive. Our economy's been bad before. When I was growing up in the '80s, there was a recession. I think it's just going to be, it's going to happen, over and over. The economy's going to be strong, then it's going to go down again.

Guzman-Lopez: Nava's major investment at the moment is his education. After years of working clerical jobs, he's placing his bets on a radiology career.