Letters to the Editor: California has $31 billion extra to spend. Higher education needs a lot of it

On November 22, 2021, the Los Angeles Times published this letter to the editor from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education:

To the editor: The $31-billion state budget surplus can help make up for the funding losses that California’s public higher education system suffered during the Great Recession. The University of California, California State University and community college systems are economic engines for the state. But they must have more funding to continue to produce the educated workforce that California needs. Despite increased funding in recent years, they’re still behind. The community college system went several years without its fair share of state funds from the spending guidelines set in Proposition 98, and it per-student resources have long been far too low. UC and CSU don’t have dedicated funding streams or constitutional protections. To make up for the damage inflicted by the financial strain on these three systems, we should increase faculty, improve existing facilities and add the new ones needed to house and educate students. Expanding the capacities of UC, CSU and the community colleges will ensure one of our key economic engines keeps propelling our state forward.

Dick Ackerman, Fullerton

Mel Levine, Pacific Palisades

Ackerman is a former Republican leader of the California Senate; Levine is a former Democratic member of Congress. They co-chair the California Coalition for Public Higher Education.