Policy Details Emerge in Governor Brown’s May Budget Revision

On Friday, May 11, Governor Brown unveiled his May Revision to the 2018-19 California State Budget proposal. The new expanded budget represents an overall 4.5 percent increase in state general funds from January. Increased infrastructure investments and adjustments to Proposition 98 apportionments mean the higher education budget will also see a boost. The May Revision proposes a 2.23 percent increase for the California Community Colleges (CCC), a 1.66 percent increase for the University of California (UC), and no changes for the California State University (CSU).

Overall, the May Revision clarifies key points for initiatives introduced in January and holds a firm line with UC and the CSU on apportionment and tuition expectations. Here is what has changed:

May Revision increases proposed funding for the California Community Colleges and clarifies key policy components of new initiatives.

California Online Community College

  • In response to feedback from the CCC faculty and community, several governance questions surrounding the proposed wholly online community college are addressed in the revision. For example, online community college faculty and staff will be classified to enable collective bargaining and the new college will partner with another community college district to facilitate representation. Further, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors will administer the college—the proposal no longer recommends a new and separate governing board be sought for this purpose. The president of the new college, selected by the chancellor and the Board of Governors, would also establish an advisory council made up of local college and district representatives.
  • The May Revision also more clearly defines the intention of the online community college to offer unique coursework that is not duplicated from what is already available at brick and mortar campuses.
  • The revision identifies the first two pathways that will be created should the proposal be adopted: information technology support and medical coding.
  • In response to questions about accountability that have repeatedly surfaced since January, the budget proposal clarifies that the new college intends to seek accreditation. While the process moves forward, the Workforce Development Board would have oversight to certify that programs offered have job market value for students.
  • The revision also specifies that the online college would be required to comply with all standard reporting to the legislature as well as provide a detailed status report in year three.

Student-Focused Funding Formula

  • The budget proposes changing the previously introduced Student-Focused Funding Formula from 50/25/25 for enrollment, student success, and supplemental funding, respectively, to 60/20/20.
  • Some changes to the proposed formula specify more clearly how it would account for unique student populations. For example, low-income students over the age of 25 receiving a College Promise Grant fee waiver, undocumented students qualifying for resident tuition, and the total number of students receiving a Pell Grant—not just first-time students—will all be considered in the 20 percent supplemental grant portion of the formula.
  • Student success outcome measures were added to the funding formula proposal. The original recommendation looked only at completion and full-time attendance rates, while the May Revision considers several additional measures of success such as completing transfer‑level math and English within a student’s first year, obtaining a regional living wage within twelve months of completing a degree or certificate program, and successfully completing nine units of career technical education courses. Colleges would also be additionally rewarded for these success outcomes for Pell recipients.
  • A significant apportionment adjustment relaxes the hold-harmless policy recommended in the funding formula to two years instead of one. Additionally, $104 million in one-time funding would support districts whose year over year increase in apportionment funding drops below the budget year’s cost-of-living adjustment of 2.71 percent.

Categorical Program Consolidation

  • The May Revision proposes streamlining several categorical grants that serve similar groups of community college students by consolidating them into two programs. As proposed in the January budget, the Full Time Student Success Grant and the Community College Completion Grant would be consolidated to form the Student Success Completion Grant and see an increase of $7.8 million in Prop 98 funding.
  • Other categorical programs to be consolidated are the Student Success and Support Program, Student Equity Program, and the Student Success for Basic Skills Program. On the recommendation of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, these programs would be integrated into one block grant, giving districts more flexibility in how the funds are used.

Course Identification Numbering System

  • The May Revision includes $685,000 for the C-ID system established in 2007. These one-time funds will continue to support the work of the CCC faculty in standardizing common courses across different colleges.

Private non-profit colleges will continue to receive the full Cal Grant amount of $9,084 proposed in January with some adjustments to the requirements for Associate Degree for Transfer admissions.

  • To maintain the maximum Cal Grant award of $9,084, the private non-profit sector would be required to admit 2,000 ADT students in 2018-19, 3,000 in 2019-20, and 3,500 ongoing. This ramp-up is accelerated and increased from 2,500 in 2019-20 and 3,000 by 2010-21 proposed in January. 

By unlocking some conditional funds, UC receives a slight increase in funding from the January proposal, while the CSU sees no increase in funding. Both schools see increases in deferred maintenance spending from the infrastructure surplus plan.

  • The revision includes $50 million in funding for UC based on an agreement with Governor Brown in 2017 on condition that the institution continues to meet reporting requirements and makes progress on its transfer initiatives.
  • The budget maintains the 3 percent increase over 2017-18 of $92.1 billion in apportionment for UC and the CSU.
  • For both institutions, a new proposal in the May Revision would adjust each segment’s apportionment if tuition is raised by reducing general fund expenditures proportional to the increase. According to the budget, this is meant to account for rising costs to the state in financial aid that accompany tuition hikes.
  • An increase of $100 million one-time funding for deferred maintenance also is proposed as part of the Governor’s plan for infrastructure spending. 


The next several weeks will likely see a flurry of additional changes to the newly proposed apportionments, but it is heartening to see policy details emerge. For two of the largest initiatives, the California Online Community College and the Student-Focused Funding Formula, programmatic details appear to reflect the feedback received from policy leaders and community stakeholders. California Competes’ recent analysis of the proposed funding formula called for better delineation of student populations to ensure adult learners were equitably accounted for. The inclusion of this group in the May Revision, as well as better measures for student outcomes and success, will expand the reach of higher education to more equitably include a larger share of Californians.