Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Bye, Bye, Higher Education

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    NEWSLETTERS

    By slicing here and dicing there, the state legislature has passed a budget without continuing those temporary tax increases.

    The one quarter percent increase in state income taxes disappeared on January 1, and the doubled automobile fees and one percent sales tax hike went away July 1.

    That's a lot of money in our pockets. It's also a lot of grief for public education, which receives about half of the budget revenues.

    Considerable attention has focused on crowded K-12 classrooms and dismissed teachers as major casualties. Not as visible have been the costs to higher education, probably because while K-12 is mandatory, higher education is viewed by many as an elective experience.

    Make no mistake about it, however.

    The latest round of cuts to higher education will impact the state for a generation or more.

    Two changes are responsible for the crisis--the need to raise tuition and new admission procedures. Together, they will wipe out the next generation of talent and taxpayers.

    Over the past five years, tuition cost for both higher education systems has just about doubled. But there's more to come.

    CSU, which already announced a 15 percent increase for Fall 2011, has added another 15 percent. In one year, the cost is going up about a third to about $6,500 plus assorted fees. The University of California, which has seen state support drop by more than 50 percent over the past 20 years, instituted an 8 percent increase before the budget was completed.

    Now it will probably add another 9.6 percent, raising tuition to about $12,200 plus various incidentals.

    But UC has added yet another wrinkle to its tuition strategy. For the first time in history, UC is no longer giving preference to California-born students. You see, students from out of state pay higher tuition. That may be just swell for closing a budget gap, except that it means less room for qualified Californians.

    The sad reality is that in the name of no new taxes, we are squeezing out the next generation. Tens of thousands of applicants either will not apply because of costs or go to other states where the tuition is lower. Once they graduate, they'll probably stay there with all their new skills.

    That's the biggest problem of all. The respected Public Policy Institute of California recently completed a study on California's future employment patterns. According to the study, by 2025 41 percent of the state's jobs will require college graduates. When the study was completed in 2008, the state higher education system was on a path to provide 34 percent of the graduates needed. Now? We won't even get close.

    Only in California--a state where well-paying jobs (and equal number of high tier tax payers) will go wanting as we starve out the next generation of college students. 

    (/blogs/prop-zero)