Educational Budget Cuts

March 16, 2017. President of Santa Monica College Dr. Kathryn Jeffery's talks to faculty about potential budget cuts on flex day when students aren't on campus at Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California. Daniel Bowyer

BY Lazaro Carranza and Daniel Bowyer

Santa Monica College students and staff can expect some changes in the near future when it comes to the school's budget. SMC President Dr. Kathryn Jeffery informed staff via email about potential budget cuts and on March 16 and confirmed the cuts were coming during a faculty flex day speech in front of the entire Santa Monica College staff. The budget troubles started with the decline in full-time enrolled students over the past seven years. Since 2009, full-time student enrollment dropped 9% while SMC has faced a 35.1% increase in expenditures for many school programs and campus expansion projects, like the recently opened Core Performance Center on the main campus. In an earlier email sent to SMC faculty on March 15, Dr. Jeffery along with District Planning Advisory Council (DPAC), highlighted these five major changes in fiscal spending:

  • The college will immediately freeze all non-faculty hiring.
  • In order to save $2,000,000, Santa Monica College will freeze all supply, contract, and equipment accounts.
  • Reduce budgets for contracts and other operating services by $2 million.
  • Freeze spending on maintaining technology and infrastructure to help bring SMC out of its deficit.
  • Suspend annual Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB), that pertain to retired faculty until the SMC Budget is balanced.

This may be just the first round of issues SMC is going to face within the next few years. If President Trump's “America First” budget proposal goes the distance on Capitol Hill, many college students could feel some negative effects.

Trump's plan is expected to cut 14% of education funding, according to The Washington Post. The budget is keeping the Pell Grant Program but is expected to reduce the funding for the program by $3.9 billion. According to USA Today, the Pell Grant program sends nearly $6,000 to first-year students in families that earn less than $40,000 a year.

The budget plan is also expected to completely cut the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program completely. According to the U.S Department of Education, the FSEOG program gives anywhere from $100-$4000 a year to college students with financial need.

The budget cuts on education and other programs are expected to free up billions of dollars to fund Donald Trump's proposed wall on the US-Mexican border and increase deportation of illegal immigrants, according to the LA Times.

Vermont senator and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee Bernie Sanders said in a statement: “President Trump's budget is morally obscene and bad economic policy. It will cause devastating pain to the very people Trump promised to help during the campaign.”

President Trump's “America First” budget plan is bound to be a fight on the hill as the GOP holds a slim majority of seats in the senate with 52, but not all Republican senators are on board just yet. A few members of Donald Trump's party are joining the Democrats in opposition to this spending plan. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump's budget is “dead on arrival – It's not going to happen,” according to NBC News.

With the “America First” budget not yet being a sure thing Santa Monica College students and staff, for now, should focus on the school's personal budget changes as they are bound to affect many of us.