Tuition-Free Community College Expansion Bill Crosses First Hurdle
Sacramento, CA – In a show of early support, the Assembly Higher Education Committee today overwhelmingly passed AB 2 with 11 ayes and 1 no vote. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) would add a second year of tuition-free community college in California.
“When college degrees are unaffordable, our economy suffers,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago. “If we’re going to tackle income inequality and empower the next generation to succeed, we need to release the pressure on young people to take out loans they can’t afford. Passing AB 2 isn’t just the right thing to do for our students; it’s a down payment on our future”
A College Promise (AB19) student and leadership from the Los Angeles County Community College District, which is sponsoring AB 2, traveled to Sacramento to argue in support of the bill. “The College Promise has given me the most powerful tool which is education,” added Jorge Acosta, an LACCD student attending LA Harbor College. “This tool has enabled me to impact many lives and will help me impact many more in the future.”
“AB2 is a statement of California’s investment in its most important resource: its people,” said LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez. “It keeps the promise of an affordable high quality higher education alive for all Californians, irrespective of zip code, native language or income.”
This comes on the heels of renewed support for the measure, which this week tacked on seven joint-authors. That powerful coalition now includes Assemblymembers Bonta, Cervantes, Chiu, Friedman, Gonzalez, McCarty and Quirk-Silva. Assemblymembers Carillo, Gipson, and Luz Rivas have joined the fight for two years of free community college as co-authors.
“Students across the state are facing record challenges,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). “California owes it to our students to make tuition free community college a reality. Tuition free community college will be increase in-state student enrollment, allow more students to graduate with less debt and a degree, and empower students to be able to participate in the global marketplace”.
“I’m proud to see AB 2 clear its first hurdle today! AB 2 will deal a direct blow to student debt by making community college more affordable and more accessible,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland). “I’m proud to be a joint author of AB 2. This is exactly how California should be leading. Under AB 2, the state makes a critical commitment and investment to help students achieve their dreams of going to college as well as to help create the skilled workforce of tomorrow our growing economy demands.”
“It is time we restore the promise of free community college in California,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “Whether it be the cost of tuition, finding affordable housing, or paying off student loans, it is crushingly expensive to be a student today. AB 2 will help alleviate some of that burden and give community college students across California a helping hand by offering two years of free tuition.”
“Two years of community college allowed my mom to start a career in nursing and put our family on the path to the middle class,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said. “Every Californian deserves that opportunity. We must offer no-cost access to our great community college system.”
“In providing a free second year of community college, we are working to ensure that California has the best-educated workforce to maintain our competitive edge as the fifth largest economy in the world,” said Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona). “As state legislators, we must reaffirm our commitment to the success of California’s students. The future of our state depends on it.”
“A college degree can open the door to a lifetime of success,” said Assemblymember Friedman (D-Glendale), a joint author of the bill. “AB 2 will ensure that thousands of California students will have access to the education, skills, life experiences and opportunities that our network of community colleges can provide.”
“As a former community college student, I have seen first-hand the importance of education in expanding the opportunities in my life. By expanding the College Promise Program, we will give the working class students and their families, assurance that the cost of higher education can be attainable,” said Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Orange County). “When California reinvests in its students, they invest in revitalizing a stronger workforce, educated students, and stability in our economic future.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for its next hearing.
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly’s Communications and Conveyance Committee, and a member of both the Assembly Public Safety Committee and the California Latino Legislative Caucus. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.