Early this morning, the Legislature completed their work in the regular legislative session, gaveling into final recess. The Governor has until September 30 to sign bills that were passed at the end of the session.
The session was plagued by the challenges of responding and adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a safety precaution, the Legislature took an extended recess from March 20 to mid-May. While they had planned a very brief summer recess, it was lengthened after numerous Capitol staff and members tested positive for COVID-19. The last days of the session were upended when a Senator tested positive after attending an in-person caucus meeting. This led to the quarantine of most Republican Senators, who voted remotely in the final days. Their frustration over this process led to significant delays on the last night of session, resulting in major legislative priorities such as affordable housing bills not passing by the midnight deadline.
CCFC took positions on a number of bills during this session, however all were sidelined earlier this year due to significant paring down of bills to focus only on the most significant statewide priorities. Click here for more information on these bills. In 2020, most of the education policy changes were enacted through budget trailer bills, rather than through the typical policy bill process.
Student and Workforce Housing
CCFC spent significant energy on supporting affordable student and workforce housing opportunities. While none of the major student housing bills made it through the legislative process this year, we are encouraged that this topic may resurface next year, due to heightened interest in the Legislature and at colleges to serve students’ basic needs. CCFC worked with Assembly Member McCarty’s office to help draft AB 2353. This bill proposed to create a competitive grant program that would provide funding for planning purposes, to help colleges determine if they can offer affordable student rental housing. Authorized uses for the grant dollars would include feasibility studies, engineering studies, environmental impact studies, legal services, architectural plans, and more. We hope Assembly Member McCarty will bring this bill forward again in 2021. CCFC has also been working with the California School Finance Authority to examine potential opportunities to reduce costs associated with financing, planning, and constructing student and workforce housing projects.
The FY 20-21 budget included a trigger provision of $14 billion in cuts and deferrals across a variety of departments and programs. If the state receives at least $14 billion in additional Federal relief funds by October 15, 2020, these cuts and deferrals will trigger “off” and funding will be restored. For community colleges, the trigger includes $791 million in payment deferrals for FY 20-21. While additional Federal action has not yet materialized, it is possible that it could occur this fall. This could cause the Governor to call the Legislature back to Sacramento for a special legislative session to address the budget, economic stimulus, and/or COVID-19 relief. If a special session is not enacted, then the Legislature will gavel in the new 2021-22 session on December 7 for a brief organizational meeting, swearing in new members elected in November, then reconvene on January 4, 2021 to begin their work in earnest.
CCFC Legislative Advocate