Power to the people is Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach to rebuilding a state with a $25 billion deficit. As the governor began his state of the state address on January 31st, he made no misconceptions about our current condition stating that it is “a crisis that is real and unprecedented.”
The most recent summary of the Chabot–Las Positas Community College District (CLPCCD) budget proposal for 2011-12 puts the crisis clearly. A decrease of $400 million in funding for community colleges (6.8% Budget reduction.) Increase in fees from $26 per unit to $36 per unit. $1.5 billion cut to CalWORKs (although no cuts are expected for the community college CalWORKs program.) The CLPCCD estimates a budget deficit of $6,930,928 from both state reduction as well as District structural deficit.
While recognizing the uphill road ahead, Gov. Brown strongly declared that it was the people who should ultimately decide what is best for California. “Voters are clearly telling us that our state and nation are going in the wrong direction.” He affirmed that no long-term legislation that will affect the people living in California would be passed without a vote from the people. In order to reiterate his point, he read Article 2 Section 1 of the California Constitution, which reads; “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform it when the public good may require.”
Although solemn at times having to deliver the reality of our current failures, Gov. Jerry Brown seemed optimistic about the future. “My intention is to make California again a leader in job creation, renewable energy and state of the art efficiency, innovation of all kinds, and a solid primary and secondary education. Our Universities are world renowned and I intend to see that they continue to enjoy the respect of students and scholars throughout the world.” The governor pleaded for ideas and creative input from both parties that will see us out of this situation asking to put party loyalty aside and focus on our unity as Californians.
Mostly serious in his delivery, Jerry Brown also presented his lightheartedness and humor as he joked with the members of the chamber. At times he encouraged them to clap at certain elements of his speech and pointed out that he is more than willing to work with Republicans.
There are many who are not completely happy with Gov. Brown’s current plans. Tobey Kaplan, an instructor here at Chabot, voiced her concern over the governor’s plans to stop continuing the funding of city redevelopment agencies. “These agencies are designed to improve neighborhoods!” Kaplan also stressed that she would like to see more money given to the CA Arts Council, a program Brown signed into action in 1976.
Whether or not we are happy with Gov. Brown’s plans, one thing is certain. The road ahead will be tough and deeply impact all of us. We can however take a positive viewpoint. “Times of crisis open the door for creativity,” stated physics and astronomy instructor Timothy Dave, and we will absolutely need everyone’s creativity to succeed.