Sunday, January 11, 2015

SF Chronicle Suggests an Exercise in Tax Reform to Fund UC

From a San Francisco Chronicle editorial: Gov. Jerry Brown is prolonging an avoidable war with one of the state’s most important institutions, the University of California. In debuting a a record state budget, he’s holding back $120 million that UC says it needs to avoid hefty tuition boosts. The governor knows he’s on safe political ground, at least for now. A vote by the university regents in November set in motion a 28 percent increase over five years, bringing on protests, the wrath of the state Legislature and his own objections at making students “the default financiers” of their education... Brown’s money-saving tips to UC aren’t persuasive. Tuition bumps could be avoided if the university went wide screen with online courses, made professors teach more and curbed pay increases for faculty and administrators, he suggests. All good ideas, Governor, but they’re nothing close to an answer... Personal services, from legal bills to personal trainers, are exempt from sales taxes. Quizzed about expanding the sales tax to include services, Brown questioned the political feasibility and joked about no one wanting to pay an 8.5 percent tax on a pilates or yoga class. It’s a brush-off answer from a cagey career politician. Brown should call off his showy feud with UC, negotiate a deal that moderates tuition swings and then move on to genuine tax reform.
Regardless of the particular proposal and viewpoint, the editorial suggests that the governor's stance is not expected to be the end of the story and that those who follow state politics think that he needs to negotiate something realistic with UC. And doing so is nothing for him to get especially exercised about:

1 comment:

Michael Meranze said...

I think that everyone assumes there will be a negotiation--that doesn't seem that striking a point. Of course the question is who has the best hand and right now I'm not sure it is UC but we will see.

But I read the editorial and its implications differently than you did. To me the Chron seemed to be saying that UC was a sideshow to the important work which is tax reform (and they seem to be assuming a surplus which you called into question in your last). This seemed less an exercise in supporting a more reasonable approach to UC's long term funding needs than a way to use the UC question to get somewhere else. I expect we will see a lot of that in the coming months. Higher Ed being used as a way to get at something else.