Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (File photo)

Governor Gavin Newsom released his 2019-20 Budget Plan that proposes to fully fund two years of free community college in California at a cost of $40 million.

Assembly Bill 2, jointly authored by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago, David Chiu, Kevin McCarty, Rob Bonta, Sharon Quirk-Silva, Laura Friedman, Lorena Gonzalez, and Sabrina Cervantes was introduced to strengthen the California College Promise policy. This budget proposal takes an important step towards guaranteeing a completely free community college experience for California students.

“Community college changed my life,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “It gave me choices and opportunities and it opened doors. I know that free community college will change the lives of all Californians. To educate a community is to empower a community. I applaud the Governor’s budget proposal to fund two years of free community college. He has consistently shown leadership on this issue and I look forward to partnering with him in our efforts to strengthen the California College Promise with AB 2.”

“This budget proposal shows the new Governor’s commitment to working towards a world-class higher education system that is accessible to all,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “Providing two years of free community college tuition will make it easier for students to receive a college education and encourage more students to enroll.”

“California’s future economy will require about $2 million college students with new academic degrees by 2030,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). “By providing two years of free community college, California will help more students graduate with less debt, and will grow the number of degree and certificated workers needed to compete in the global economy”

“A college degree can open the door to a lifetime of opportunity, but for many Californians, the cost of tuition is an insurmountable barrier,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale).  “With AB 2, we’re investing in our students and economy by creating pathways to sustainable careers.”

“The cost of earning a college degree has become a heavy burden on an entire generation of Californians,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). “Young people today worry about whether they’ll be able to pay for their dream of going to college without going into mountains of debt. It’s unfair and unsustainable. I’m proud to be joint-authoring AB 2 that would make college more affordable and accessible. I’m pleased this effort is also a key priority for the Governor and look forward to working together to make this a reality. Not only will it help our students, it will also aid California in meeting its future workforce demands and keep our state the world’s innovation leader.”

“In providing a free second year of community college, we are working to ensure that California has the best-educated workforce to maintain our competitive edge as the fifth largest economy in the world,” said Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona). “As state legislators, we must reaffirm our commitment to the success of California’s students. The future of our state depends on it.”

“California can’t pretend that the education needed to prepare our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow ends at the 12th grade. If it’s the state’s responsibility to offer a free public education, then we must offer no-cost access to our great community college system,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).

“We must be sure that California’s students have access to higher education, yet high tuition costs deny students and their families the dream of obtaining a degree,” said Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton). “Expanding the College Promise Program will give working class students, and their families, assurance that the cost of higher education, and the American Dream, will be within their reach. A reinvestment in our students is an investment in California; its skilled workforce, its economy, and its future.”

AB 2 was introduced on December 3, 2018, and will likely be heard in the Assembly Higher Education Committee in late February/early March.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly’s Communications and Conveyance Committee, and a member of both the Assembly Public Safety Committee and the California Latino Legislative Caucus. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.