Councilman David Oh introduced a bill today that would transfer $19.25 million from the City’s General Fund to the Community College of Philadelphia, ensuring that the City meets its obligation to fund one-third of the school’s budget in Fiscal Year 2019. The bill is cosponsored by Councilmembers Jannie Blackwell, Cindy Bass, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, and Mark Squilla.
It has been 35 years since the City met its obligation to fund one-third of the Community College of Philadelphia’s budget. When the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania founded community colleges in 1963, it mandated equal funding from three sources: the State, the City, and students. Because the City has not been meeting its mandatory minimum appropriations to the Community College of Philadelphia for many years, students have been burdened with higher tuition costs. For this fiscal year’s $134,712,576 operating budget, students provide 55% of the revenue while the State is only providing 24% and the City is only providing 19%–a shortfall of $19.25 million on the City’s part.
In a March 12th hearing before Council’s Joint Committee on Finance and Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy, co-chaired by Councilmembers Blackwell and Oh, Community College of Philadelphia administrators, faculty, and students spoke of the need to reduce the burden placed on students to cover the City’s abdication of funding responsibilities. It is clear that education outcomes, and thereby economic opportunities, could improve for Community College of Philadelphia students if the City dedicated more funding to the school.
The ordinance transfers money from the Fiscal Year 2019 General Fund budget allocations to the Office of Innovation and Technology, the Department of Public Health, and the Civil Service Commission. Councilman Oh’s office compared these departments’ budgeted spending versus actual spending for the past nine years and then assessed the average percentage of funds which have gone unspent to the departments’ FY19 budget allocations. The resulting funds, which the past indicates will go unspent by these departments, are transferred to the Community College of Philadelphia through this ordinance.