Facing Huge Deficit, Gov. Brown Declares Cuts Essential …

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

May 4, 2017

… but only in programs that help California’s vanishing citizen middle-class

California’s Middle Class Scholarship program (MCS) is on Governor Jerry Brown’s chopping block. Intended to pay for up to 40 percent of UC and Cal State students’ tuition fees, assuming their families’ incomes and assets, minus home values and retirement accounts, don’t exceed $156,000.

California’s middle-class students out of luck,
while academic subsidies for aliens continue.


Cal State students receive 80 percent of the scholarships, maximum amount, $1,641 for the current academic year; UC students max out at $3,688. Brown wants to begin MCS’s phase out during the 2017-2018 academic year. Brown blamed the state’s fiscal crisis with its deficit projected to reach $1.5 billion this summer as the reason he is compelled to axe the scholarships. The larger Cal Grant program that benefits families of four with a $90,000 income ceiling, however, will continue uninterrupted.

The underlying but unfounded excuse Brown and his Sacramento bean counters use to defend ending MCP is that middle class families can afford tuition rates, but poorer people can’t.

Here’s the wording in the 2017-2018 budget: “Given the state’s overall financial condition, to continue the Administration’s support for long-term stable growth in funding…and to maintain the broad Cal Grant entitlement for the state’s neediest students, the Budget proposes a phase-out of the Middle Class Scholarship Program.”

And here’s what state finance department representative H.D. Palmer said: “We believe that gradually phasing out the Middle Class Scholarship Program will allow us to continue to maintain the Cal Grant entitlement program that’s focused on those students with the greatest financial need.”

California’s shrinking middle class, those who would benefit from MCS, include mostly citizens and legal permanent residents. Those with lower incomes, the Cal Grant beneficiaries, include illegal immigrants.

In 2011, Brown signed the state DREAM Act, part two, that supplemented the original 2010 version and allowed illegal immigrant students previously excluded from Cal Grants to qualify. Cal Grants, which don’t require repayment, is a multi-million dollar entitlement for alien students.

Rescinding MCP is another body-blow to hardworking, taxpaying Californians, and more evidence – not that any is needed – that in California being a citizen doesn’t count for much.


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