SRJC Receives Temporary Relief from Proposition 30, but not a Miracle

Domanique Crawford, Staff Writer

SRJC officially sighed with relief at the momentary reprieve Proposition 30 offers. Although the college still has to face a $6.3 million structural deficit, SRJC is better equipped to meet the needs of the college community in coming years.

Proposition 30 allows SRJC to maintain the courses offered for Spring 2013 and preserve jobs for instructors that could have been cut if the proposition failed. In Fall 2013, SRJC intends to rebuild the class schedule by increasing the courses offered approximately 7 percent and plans to restore additional for the 2013-14 year.

“The greatest immediate benefit from the passage of Proposition 30 was the avoidance of having to take an additional cut to our revenues in 2012- 13 of $6.3 million,” said Doug Roberts, vice president of business services.

While the benefits of Proposition 30 prevent additional budget cuts, the district still has to deal with the structural deficit. “The biggest obstacle in overcoming the structural deficit is the fact that the state has taken away over $11 million from us in the past four years. Additionally, 86 percent of our expenditures are in the area of salaries and benefits. Of the remainder much is ‘fixed’ and or reduced to a bare minimum from previous years’ reductions,” Roberts said.

According to a budget report Roberts developed, state-inflicted revenue reductions and external cost increases are the main contributors of the structural deficit. A $500,000 employer rate increase by the California Public Employee Retirement System, a four year $1.9 million increase cost in health benefits and an unemployment insurance cost increase of $500,000 have all added to district costs.

To combat the structural deficit, SRJC balanced the total courses offered to the allotment of full time equivalent students (FTES) the state is able to fund, and worked with organizations to reduce costs. The district annually works with the All Faculty Association, Service Employees International Union and the Management Team to collaborate on one-year concession agreements to help ends meet. The district also worked with employment groups to reduce the district cost of employee health benefits. By reassigning more than 50 regular employees to different or expanded position the district reduced the need for position replacement and eliminated more than 125 student employee positions.

Even though Proposition 30 was a win for the district, balancing a budget is always an ongoing battle. “The best way for our district to get out of our fiscal mess is for the state to adequately fund public education,” Roberts said.