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Assemblymembers Block, Brownley and Torlakson, California Students Highlight Need for Budget Passage to Resume Cal Grants

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Marty Block (D-San Diego), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education, Assemblymember Tom Torlakson (D-Contra Costa) and students from California colleges held a press conference today to urge immediate passage of the state budget. While the budget is on hold, students cannot receive the funds distributed through the Cal Grants program.

Assemblymember Block remarked that “50 years ago the California Master Plan for Higher Education promised access for all students to affordable higher education. The delay of Cal Grants illustrates how the budget impasse has begun to have real world consequences for people across the state breaking the promise of the Master Plan. Thousands of students who depend on Cal Grants to finance their fall semester are now stopped dead in their tracks – whether they were working towards a degree, or gaining new skills to rejoin the workforce. Cal Grants provide the greatest bang for the taxpayer buck because they are a proven and effective means of expanding college access and producing more graduates and retrained workers.”

"More than 41,000 students who have qualified for Cal Grants this fall are in financial limbo because Republican lawmakers have rejected the Democrats' Jobs Budget and failed to propose a solution to the $19 billion budget deficit," said Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica. "These students need the education necessary to meet industries' demand for a skilled workforce."

Assemblymember Torlakson noted that, “If California is going to remain competitive, we have to invest in our future, and Cal Grants is exactly the kind of investment we need. These students have done everything we’ve asked of them. They’ve studied hard and achieved. We need to keep our part of the bargain – both to help them and to secure our own future.”

Cal Grants are responsible for ensuring that many of the state’s best and brightest college students are given the opportunity to succeed. The failure to pass a budget is making it impossible for qualified students to afford college.

Below are links to audio from today’s news conference:

Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Marty Block's opening remarks at today's news conference. (3:19) mp3

Assemblymember Block says California's college students are being hurt by the lack of a state budget. (:11) mp3

Assemblymember Block says education is the best investment California can make in its future. (:21) mp3

Assemblymember Tom Torlakson's opening remarks at today's news conference. (2:26) mp3

Assembly Education Committee Chair Julia Brownley's opening remarks at today's news conference. (2:32) mp3

Assemblymember Brownley says legislative Republicans are hurting students by blocking passage of a state budget. (:20) mp3

Alex Pader, President of Student Senate of the California Community Colleges and student at American River College, says students are struggling without their financial aid. (:10) mp3

Christopher Chavez, President of California State Student Association and student at California State University, Long Beach, says parents need to know their college age children are being hurt by the lack of a state budget. (:14) mp3

Contact: Mike Naple (Block) @ (916) 202-0003

Website of Assemblymember Marty Block: www.assembly.ca.gov/block
Website of Assemblywoman Julia Brownley: www.assembly.ca.gov/brownley
Website of Assemblymember Tom Torlakson: www.assembly.ca.gov/torlakson