Friday, May 8, 2015

Bridging the UC Budget Gap

Actually, the bridge we're thinking about is the Bay Bridge, a major segment of which was recently rebuilt by the state. As the construction went on, one scandal after another appeared. Inspections were not properly performed. Components were defective. Bad news continues to flow about corrosion of key parts. For example, see

The interesting thing up to this point is that although the bridge is a state project, Gov. Brown has shown little interest in the evident mismanagement by the state - his state - of the reconstruction. And, up to this point, the public hasn't held him responsible (certainly not when he was up for re-election). But in large part, the public was so relieved to be freed from years of state budget crises - for which Brown got credit - that his popularity overwhelmed other bad news.

Now, however, Brown has problems. There is no immediate budget crisis. But the drought has - or will soon - inflict costs and pain on millions of Californians. And you can be sure local water agencies, wanting to deflect public anger, will point to the state to take the blame. Brown's water legacy project - his tunnels - are facing increased opposition. (The water pandering to farm interests that has emanated from the governor recently is essentially an attempt to find some allies for the tunnel project.) It's only a matter of time before someone asks whether the state, which apparently can't build a bridge properly, can manage tunnel construction. The same kind of question will be asked about Brown's high speed rail legacy project, whose funding has yet to be fully determined.

We have noted in recent posts that current signs suggest that no deal has been reached within the Committee of Two regarding tuition and budgets for UC. But in a complicated way, the political diversions of bridge-water-tunnel-rail seem likely move Brown away from his hang-ups over such issues as online education at UC. Dad Pat Brown produced a legacy in water projects, transportation, and higher ed. With his own water and transportation legacies in trouble, will Jerry Brown want his higher ed legacy to be the Committee of Two?

Turns out that Sarah Palin may not have been the only governor with a bridge to nowhere:

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