Thursday, November 13, 2014

One Columnist Supports the UC Side in the Fight With the Governor

Joe Mathews writes on the generally conservative Fox and Hounds blog:

Janet Napolitano finally has the UC in the right position: on offense. For years, the University of California has been on defense when it comes to the budget discussion. The state’s university systems don’t have the kind of special initiative and constitutional protections, so politicians cut their budgets fairly easily. And when UC tries to compensate with tuition fee increases or by recruiting more out-of-state students paying full freight, the same politicians attack the U.C...

The reaction to the strategy showed that it was the right move. Legislative leaders of both parties were put on the defensive and pressed on what they were going to do about the UC. And those leaders whined about this predicament. Bob Huff complained that the UC was putting a gun to the legislature’s head (which, of course, is what other interest groups with juice always do). Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins lamely whined in a statement that the U.C. was trying to make pawns of students. That’s pretty rich when you consider the state’s leadership just decided to prioritize debt and a rainy-day budget formula (Prop 2) over restoring previous cuts to higher ed...

A high-profile fight could be very useful to the U.C. in making clear its predicament and boosting its revenues. The university system could even pursue a ballot initiative to demand more money if lawmakers balk. Now, the university leadership needs to keep pressing this message: either fund us properly (I was glad to see a top UC financial official complain to the Sacramento Bee that Prop 30 hadn’t resulted in the promised funds for the system), or stop grandstanding and give us more room to maneuver. UC needed an aggressive president who knows how to fight. Napolitano may be it.

Full story at

The first test will be at the Regents next week, if the governor shows up.  (And, given what has happened, he would need a pretty good excuse not to show up.)  The question is whether the Regents will allow him to do his usual pontificating - learned Latin phrases and all - without taking strong objection to what he says.

And if they need data to make those objections, PPIC has conveniently come out with a couple of reports:

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