Gov. Jerry Brown, stumping for votes for his temporary tax measure Proposition 30, is campaigning on public university campuses up and down state. His message: Your tuition will go up if Prop 30 doesn't pass, so save yourself and vote for Prop 30.
University students shouldn't accept this message at face value. Yes, their tuition will go up if Prop 30 fails. But one reason why that tuition could go up is Gov. Brown himself.
So, students, why not greet the campaigning governor with a pop quiz? Here are five questions you might ask:
1. If you care so much about saving us from tuition increases via Prop 30, why did you tie Prop 30 to trigger cuts that put higher education at risk, and would force those tuition increases?
2. The taxes in your Prop 30 are temporary, lasting only four years (for sales) and seven years (for income). Aren't you just delaying these tuition increases for a few years until our younger siblings have to pay them?
3. To deal with cuts you and your predecessor made, the university has been forced to limit access to Californians and bring in more out-of-state students who pay full freight. If that's your plan, why don't you keep raising tuition for the out-of-staters, while cutting it for California students?
4. Here are the courses that are available and that I can get into. Here are the requirements of my major. Could you please explain to me how you expect me to graduate in four years?
5. Tuition keeps going up because under our broken budget system, higher education is one of the easiest things to cut. Prop 30 doesn't change that reality. What would change the situation is a constitutional guarantee of higher education funding -- or deeper reform of the entire budget system. But you refuse to pursue either. Why?