Sunday, January 25, 2015

Are we in the soup with the governor?

Tom Campbell was a former congressman, Stanford law prof, and budget director under Gov. Schwarzenegger.  Some may remember that he at one point had a brief campaign for governor and then US senator, neither of which was successful.  He is currently dean at the Chapman law school and interprets the latest governor's budget proposal in a piece in the Orange County Register: [excerpt]

Tom Campbell: Jerry Brown favors two-year colleges over UC, CSU

There are three components of public higher education in California. The University of California system serves 250,000 students, the California State University system serves 448,000 students, and the California Community College system serves 2.1 million students. Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2015-16 budget carries very different messages for each. His budget gives UC a 3.9 percent increase, but warns UC not to increase tuition and not to expand the number of out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition but take places from Californians. For CSU, Brown’s budget provides a 4.2 percent increase, saying those funds “should obviate the need for CSU to increase student tuition and fees.” There is no comparable order to the CCC about tuition and fees, and the community college system gets an 8 percent increase in the general fund budget, twice as large an increase as UC or CSU...

Budget is policy, and Gov. Brown’s budget is making a policy judgment in favor of community colleges over UCs and Cal States. What is the likely reaction from the UC Regents and the CSU Board of Trustees? The UC is protected under the California Constitution from intrusion by the governor or Legislature in its management or academics; CSU does not have that protection.
In real terms, however, the possibility of being coerced by the governor or Legislature is the same for each: the threat to withhold additional state money. The governor’s position is that the extra money will materialize only if tuition increases don’t. The additional money is so small, however, that it won’t buy the governor much leverage. To get the same $115 million the governor is offering, the UC system would, on average, have to increase tuition by $230 per student per semester. To get $128 million, the CSUs would have to increase tuition by $142 per student per semester...

Full column at

Campbell's view is partly that of a former budget director: The budget is a document that lays out priorities and the governor's priorities, expressed in his proposed budget, tilt toward community colleges.  If you read the entire column, it is clear that Campbell doesn't disagree with the governor.  Community colleges, in his view, provide a step up for disadvantaged students, etc.  What isn't addressed in the Campbell piece is the rationale - if the governor and legislature want to favor community colleges - for not letting UC and CSU raise tuition if their priorities preclude more funding.

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