Assembly Members Medina and McCarty Postpone Cal Grant Reform Legislation
SACRAMENTO, CA— Assembly members Jose Medina (D-Riverside), Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Chair of Assembly Budget Subcommittee 2 on Education Finance released the following statement on the status of AB 1314.
“A college education is necessary for Californians to achieve social mobility and economic stability. As a state, we have prioritized college access and recognized that all students, regardless of income, must have the opportunity to succeed at our public postsecondary institutions. Yet, our existing financial aid programs remain insufficient to ensure that our lowest income students and our non-traditional students can enroll in and graduate from college.
“We introduced Assembly Bill 1314 to raise awareness of the inequities in our current Cal Grant structure and to begin a conversation about meaningful reform. Since its introduction, the Legislature, financial aid experts, and stakeholders have closely worked together to develop a clear policy that would reform the current program and increase the equity and access of financial aid.
“AB 1314 was designed to work in tandem with the budget to ensure funding is provided to support the policy changes. However, California’s fiscal landscape has drastically changed since AB 1314 was first introduced. With the state now facing an unprecedented budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not be fiscally possible to increase Cal Grant funding to implement the policy changes needed to reform the program this year. As a result, AB 1314 will not move forward this Legislative Session in its current form.
“Nationwide #BlackLivesMatter protests in response to the recent murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have further underscored the urgency to combat police brutality. To address this, AB 1314 has been amended to increase transparency of law enforcement use of force settlements. This bill, spearheaded by the California Legislative Black Caucus and authored by Assembly members Kevin McCarty and Chris Holden, will provide much needed change.
“Despite 2020 budget challenges and legislative shifts, we are committed to the fight for full reform of California’s financial aid system and will continue to advocate for increased Cal Grant funding in the next Legislative Session. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the dire financial situation of college students. More than ever before, we must overhaul the financial aid system to ensure the system meets the needs of students. While we are not able to reform the state’s financial aid system this Session, we have protected and even expanded California’s aid programs. The final budget agreement reached between the Legislature and Administration has no cuts to the Cal Grant and provides the full amount of aid for students at non-profit colleges and universities. We also continued summer financial aid at UC and CSU for another year, increased support for the Middle Class Scholarship to fully serve qualified students, and sought to address immediate challenges brought upon by the pandemic by including $15 million in new emergency aid for AB 540 students at UC, CSU and community colleges.”