Public Called on to Pressure Governor for College Money

Times Staff Writer

Saying the University of California gets favored treatment while the community colleges get "shortchanged," Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) expressed his hope Monday night in Orange County that the California public will "put pressure on the governor to change the budget."

Vasconcellos was in Newport Beach to speak to the Community Colleges for International Development conference at the Sheraton Newport Hotel. Vasconcellos is chairman of the powerful, money-disbursing Assembly Ways and Means Committee. An outspoken liberal, he has frequently clashed with conservative Republican Gov. George Deukmejian.

In an interview before his speech, Vasconcellos said he thinks that the community colleges are again being underfunded in Deukmejian's proposed budget for fiscal 1987-88.

"The governor's budget the past several years has shortchanged the community colleges almost systematically," said Vasconcellos. "I don't understand it. He claims to be supportive of the community colleges, and yet they get less dollars each year. And these are the colleges that help the most needy students in the state.

'Budget Is a Tragedy'

"UC students have had everything: families, education, achievement, privilege. And yet UC students get three to four times as much money as community college students do. The governor's budget is a tragedy for the community colleges.

"The budget is a tragedy for the many students who go to the community colleges and who say, 'Help me to learn how to be a good student, to get a good job, to be able to transfer to UC or CSU (California State University).' "

Vasconcellos' Ways and Means Committee plays a pivotal role in the Assembly in reviewing the governor's proposed budgets. All budget matters pass through that committee.

Vasconcellos noted Monday night that throughout Deukmejian's four years in office the Democrat-dominated Legislature has tried to get more money for the community colleges than the governor has proposed.

"Each year the (Ways and Means) committee puts more money in for the community colleges, but the governor just ends up vetoing out that money," Vasconcellos said.

Tired of Futile Acts

"What I'm going to do this year is try to help the public realize the community colleges need more money and have them persuade the governor to change his mind. I'm tired of futile acts by the committee. I'm going to try to get the public to recognize it's their future. It isn't my problem; it isn't my education--it's their kids who need enough money to be able to advance themselves and take a responsible part of California's future."

Vasconcellos is the author of a new state law that established "the California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem," the subject of recent comic strips by "Doonesbury" cartoonist Gary Trudeau.

Vasconcellos said Monday night that he not only isn't irked at Trudeau but is pleased that the self-esteem concept is getting national publicity.

"With the self-esteem task force, California has become the first state to systematically look at, and try to unlock, the secrets of violence, child abuse, drug abuse and teen-age pregnancy," he said. "Research suggests that self-esteem is involved in those issues."

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