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Cal budget passes

Students were without Cal Grants for the first half of the semester because of the California budget stalemate, which is over after nearly three months of deadlock. The

2008-2009 California State Budget ended up being 80 days overdue.

The budget impasse-the longest in California history- finally ended on Sept. 23rd, 2008 when Governor Schwarzenegger signed the final budget agreement.

The final budget agreement included a total of $10.3 billion in spending reductions-of which $3.3 billion is from “base” K-14 education spending, according to the California State Budget Project.

The delays angered and affected many in the
Mills community.

At the State of the College Address on Sept. 17, President Holmgren expressed her concern over the delay in the state budget.

“Many of our students benefit from Cal Grants and it is unconscionable to think that our legislature would be holding up support for students, in every arena, because of the political bickering that has been going on in Sacramento,” Holmgren said.

The budget standoff could not have come at a worse time for many students – the beginning of a new school year.

“I got a Cal Grant A, but it has not been credited to my account yet. I am afraid that because of budget cuts, I am going to owe money. The delay in the budget has already affected my sister at SF State; she never received the money to buy her books at the beginning of the semester,” freshwoman Lauren Bartlett said.

At the heart of the deadlock was a fight between Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature about how to lessen California’s $15 billion deficit. Democrats believed that more taxes were necessary, while Republicans favored cutting programs. The final budget was a compromise with both social programs being cut and some taxes being collected early.

Governor Schwarzenegger had proposed in May to entirely eliminate the competitive Cal Grant program and reduce all grants by 5 percent, as part of the cuts that had to be made for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. The final budget that was passed on Sept. 23rd did not include such measures. It maintains support of both Cal Grants and Chafee Grants.

Another student, senior Nicki Bannister, expressed concern for the future of the student aid programs.

“It is my senior year, so these cuts wouldn’t really affect me, but if I had more years to go to college, I would probably be extremely frustrated,” she said. “It would probably get to a point where I just wouldn’t be able to attend anymore with less government student aid.”

David Gin, director of Financial Aid, said, “From what I understand, [the] budget will not affect Mills. The state budget affects Mills only for Cal Grants and Chafee Grants, but those were funded, so our students are fine.”

“The only difficult thing was that we had to wait for

the budget to be signed to approve certain amounts of financial aid. But now it is passed-finally!”