Supervisor Jane Kim leads Board of Supervisors to 9 to 1 veto-proof vote to fully fund free City College

by Ivy Lee

In a Dec. 13 tweet, Supervisor Jane Kim sent this photo and message: “Today I announced Free City College proposal for SF residents regardless of income, age + pre-req. #AffordableSF4All”

San Francisco – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 9 to 1 today to fully fund the Free City College program championed by Supervisor Kim. The vote today is the fourth official action that the Board has taken to support making City College free for all San Franciscans. The previous votes of the Board included:

  • Passage of a resolution to make Free City College the No. 1 priority to fund should new revenue be generated through a transfer tax increase on July 12, 2016 (passed 10 to 1 with Farrell dissenting);
  • Passage of a motion to place Proposition W on the November 2016 ballot to generate new revenue for the program on July 19, 2016 (passed 10 to 1 with Farrell dissenting); and
  • Passage of legislation to create the Free City College Fund on Sept. 27, 2016 (unanimous passage).

The $9 million budget appropriation provides $7 million in direct program funding that will allow City College to enroll, tuition-free, any San Francisco resident taking credit courses. The appropriation will also allow for need-based grants of up to $1,000 each annually for students who are San Francisco residents enrolled in credit courses for education-related expenses, such as transportation, textbooks and classroom supplies.

“If we say we care about growing and strengthening our working and middle class in San Francisco and give us a fighting chance to succeed, an investment in education is an investment in all our futures,” said Supervisor Kim.

Up to 1 percent of the total budget appropriation is eligible for use by City College to implement the program and ensure that every student in receipt of these benefits undergoes financial aid counseling to access all available forms of financial aid and the remainder will seed the reserve so that the program will have a one-year cushion should the Board of Supervisors decide in the future to discontinue the program.

“San Francisco’s middle class is shrinking – between 1990 and 2012, our middle class shrank from 45 percent to 34 percent of our city population. Meanwhile, the wealth gap between the poorest and wealthiest among us has grown exponentially.

“When we know that an additional $11,000 per year is the difference that a degree from City College can make, we have to act now. If we say we care about growing and strengthening our working and middle class in San Francisco and give us a fighting chance to succeed, an investment in education is an investment in all our futures,” said Supervisor Kim.

With the 9 to 1 vote, the measure is veto-proof and the funds are to be secured for the purpose designated by the Board. However, the Mayor can still choose to ignore the wishes of San Francisco voters and the Board of Supervisors and refuse to actually spend the appropriated funds. The second and final vote on the supplemental is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2017.

Ivy Lee, chief of staff in the office of Supervisor Jane Kim, can be reached at ivy.lee@sfgov.org.