While advocates for a tuition-free City College took to City Hall yesterday to sing Christmas carols with altered lyrics to fit their cause, the Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 to allocate $9 million toward a fund that would pay tuition for all city residents in the coming academic year. However, as CBS 5 reports, Mayor Lee does not plan to spend the fund as Supervisors wish, yet again driving a wedge between him and the Board.
“The mayor supports the City College supplemental but spending it over a longer period to develop a sustainable program that addresses the needs of those students that cannot afford City College,” a spokesperson for the mayor, Deirdre Hussey, told the news station. According to the Mayor's Office, Lee proposes an advisory board that would develop a City College funding program “for those students unable to pay.”
Yesterday's legislation was introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim with Mark Farrell the lone vote of dissent on the Board. The appropriation of the $9 million comes after Lee proposed spending a total of $9 million over three years — $500,000 for the current fiscal year and $4.25 million in the following two fiscal years — for City College tuition.
That was greeted harshly by proponents of a free City College who say that Prop W, passed by voters to tax real estate transfers on residential and commercial properties worth more than $5 million, was clear that it would directly fund City College. However, seeing as the Mayor's planned sales tax increase failed and a budget deficit caused by underperforming pension funds and other issues, his priorities have changed, and funds from Prop W will go towards the fight against homelessness, his office says. That's possible because the resolution passed by Supervisors this summer to funnel the funds of the proposed property transfer tax was non-binding, and he plans to ignore it, much to the ire of Jane Kim and other progressive supervisors. As Kim told CBS 5, “I want someone to look me in the face and tell me that the majority of voters did not know that it was intended to make City College free."