Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom Sends Letter to Joint Legislative Budget Committee Requesting Rejection of Proposed Changes to Cal Grants and Loan Assumption Programs


02-10-2012



Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom sent the following letter to Senator Mark Leno, Chairman and Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, requesting they reject the proposed changes to the Cal Grant and loan assumption programs:

Full text of the letter is below:




Senator Mark Leno, Chairman
Joint Legislative Budget Committee
State Capitol Room 5100
Sacramento, CA 94248

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, Vice Chair
Joint Legislative Budget Committee
State Capitol Room 6026
Sacramento, CA 94248

Mr. Chair and Vice Chair,

In the last several years you have faced unprecedented deficits and colossal revenue shortfalls that have forced once unthinkable cuts into reality. In these difficult times your governance led to an on-time budget and record reductions in our structural deficit. I commend you for that.

But for all your hard work last year, we are once again faced with difficult choices. While there are a number of programs worthy of protection from further reductions, I write today to ask you to reject the proposed changes to the Cal Grant and loan assumption programs.

California faces a dilemma. As the need for workers with postsecondary education increases, our higher education institutions must accelerate graduation rates to keep up with the demand. California must recommit and reinvest in its world-class public higher education system, or accept a workforce that is under skilled and unprepared for the next economy.

The proposal before you seeks to save $308.4 million dollars, once again placing the burden of our fiscal problems on the very students who will help lead California out of this morass. These cuts are shortsighted and disproportionally affect minorities.

Of particular alarm are the eligibility changes to Cal Grant A, Cal Grant B and community college transfers. The proposed Cal Grant cuts arbitrarily determine "viability" of a student based on GPA. GPA is not the only factor that determines a student's success.

The current proposal threatens to further handicap students already fighting social and economic disadvantages. Denying Cal Grant benefits will place an undue burden on students, making it more difficult for them to afford an education while trying to change their circumstances by completing a college degree.

Additionally, the proposal denies a student with a 2.0 GPA financial assistance under Cal Grant B, for they are not "likely to complete their degree." If we keep cutting higher education funding and increasing the cost of getting a degree, that student is guaranteed not to complete a degree because we have priced them out of public education and told them they are not worth our support.

Moreover, the proposal seeks to end the State Nursing Assumption Program of Loans for Education for Nursing Faculty (SNAPLE NF) and the Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE). These programs incentivize Californians to enter into two noble professions with significant workforce shortfalls, a modest investment for which the return is of tangible benefit to California.

We cannot solve the entire problem of higher education funding this year, but we can say "enough is enough" and start to turn this trend around.

In these troubled times let us not take away the very tools necessary to propel California into a bright future. As you lead the legislature through the difficult budget process, I hope you will consider the students of California and reject these further cuts to higher education.

Sincerely,

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom

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