Cerritos College’s Board of Trustees and Superintendent honored Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Downey) on Wednesday for their efforts in securing $16.6 million in state funding for the community college.
“All around you see lots of positive things happening on campus,” said Dr. Jose Fierro, superintendent of Cerritos College. “These achievements could not have happened without the support and relentless commitment of both Assemblymember Garcia and Speaker Rendon.”
The funds will go towards the construction of the Student Administration Building and the Metro GoPass initiative, a program that issues students passes for unlimited rides and transfers between several transit systems all over the region.
The ceremony, which featured a student string quartet and refreshments provided by culinary students, struck a sentimental note as Rendon reflected on his career which started as a student at Cerritos College.
“So much of what I’m passionate about started here,” said Rendon. “When I was running early childhood education organizations and gang programs I used to tell my staff: ‘The work I do as an administrator is to provide you with the resources you need to be successful.’ That’s what Cristina and I do in Sacramento for the college.”
Rendon, in remarks given in a reception before the Board of Trustees meeting, also found some levity upon returning to his alma mater.
“My first year was 1988, here at Cerritos, and I got my wallet stolen at the Cerritos College student services center. So I’m glad to see it go,” joked Rendon about the replaced building. “It was kind of scaring.”
The funding for the new Student Administration Building was drawn from funds allocated as a result of Proposition 98 which guarantees that funding for K-14 education must exceed 50% of the state’s general fund.
Garcia, who was unable to attend the ceremony, was represented by Field Representative Fidel Vasquez who touted the benefits of Garcia securing funds for the Metro GoPass initiative.
“A one time trip on the bus may seem relatively cheap, however, over time a frequent [bus riding] student is faced with costly expenses throughout the academic year,” said Vasquez. “This allocation will prevent barriers for Cerritos College students and allow them to not worry about bus fares.”
Vasquez also noted that the initiative will encourage increased public transit ridership which will benefit the environment. Students who are currently enrolled in at least one course and have paid a student activities fee are eligible for the pass without any additional costs.
Rendon explained that the funds resulted from ‘member asks,’ a bit of legislative porch spending by which members can ask the Budget Committee Chair for an allocation to benefit their district, and made sure to plug Downey Mayor Blanca Pacheco’s run for Assembly.
“I was looking at Blanca Pacheco thinking, ‘Oh I hope you have ‘member asks’ through your whole 12 years in the legislature,’” he said. “Because these are the types of things we want to do in the legislature, a significant investment in our local community.”
Pacheco, a Democrat, is running to represent Downey and neighboring cities in Sacramento, replacing Garcia who is not seeking re-election after a failed bid for the U.S. House of Representatives.