New Op-Ed: Next Governor Must Step Up on Higher Education

On May 21, 2018, Fox & Hounds published an op-ed from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, titled, “Next Governor Must Step Up on Higher Education.” Here’s an excerpt:

State support for public higher education has had its ups and downs in the almost three decades since Governor Deukmejian left office.  Per pupil State funding is about half what it was during the Deukmejian years.  UC and CSU have taken big hits as the State experienced fiscal crises as the economy has had its ups and downs.  UC and CSU funding levels were recovering under Governor Gray Davis, until the Great Recession when the bottom fell out. A considerable portion of the revenue burden for UC and CSU has been shifted to students and their families in the form of increased tuition and fees.

While Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature have gradually increased higher education funding in recent years, this has never been this Governor’s top priority.  His latest May Revise Budget proposal falls some $200 million short of the modest requests made by UC and CSU.  Fortunately, there seems to be momentum building in the Legislature for “full funding” in the 2018-19 State Budget.

Whatever happens this year, there is need for a comprehensive approach to assure adequate, stable funding for all three pillars of California’s higher education system.  Hand to mouth funding cripples our campuses and undermines the need to provide access for tens of thousands of Californians and to produce the educated work force that drives the state’s economy.  Significant increases in tuition and fees won’t provide the answer.  The State needs to step up its commitment.

So far, in this year’s gubernatorial campaign, we have heard talk about free tuition, but no concrete plans to provide the funding needed to enable our campuses to grow and maintain top academic standards, while serving the growing pool of qualified high school graduates.  Higher education needs to be a priority in this campaign and going forward.  Californians are counting on our next Governor to provide new vision and leadership on higher education.

Read the complete op-ed on the the Fox & Hounds website.