Four members of the college’s Budget Committee voted to oppose the Administration’s proposed budget last night, leaving a 5-4 vote in favor, but needing eight votes to pass the budget. For the first time in years, members of the Budget Committee stood up for principle and resisted the pressure to rubberstamp the Administration’s proposal. For the next 40 minutes these four brave members of the committee — Twila Jacobson, Carmen Urbina, Matt Keating, and Bob Ackerman — not only refused to approve the proposed budget, but criticized the process for being undemocratic and rushed, and the substance for including program cuts that were unnecessary and harmful. Bob Ackerman led efforts to pass proposals that would have restored the Auto Body & Paint and Electronics programs and turned the manipulative budget process on its head. It was truly a hopeful moment for our college, putting accountability back into a process dominated by the president and key supporters on the Board.
In the end, however, after the Administration and several Board members browbeat the rebels, using every argument and legal angle in the book (my favorite was Tony McCown’s hysterical “We won’t be able to spend or even receive money if we don’t pass this budget”), the two non-Board members of the Budget Committee reluctantly gave into the pressure, stating their opposition but agreeing to switch their vote to “Yes.” That and a quick phone call to a departed Board member gave them their eight votes, and the proposed budget was passed.
No doubt the Administration is celebrating again and thinking they won. But we may just have begun to see the crack in the juggernaut. A Budget Committee that insisted on being meaningful, that used their ability to say “no” to stop the machine, if only briefly. Congratulations to all four for standing up for reason. Let’s make this the beginning of the end for budgeting as we’ve come to know it with this administration.