Higher education funding left in the hands of voters

Illustration Courtesy of Gabriel Ivan Orendain-Necochea
Illustration Courtesy of Gabriel Ivan Orendain-Necochea

The buzz around campus about the budget cuts, and how they are affecting students, is getting pretty loud, especially with the release of Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 budget plan, which irresponsibly leaves funding for higher education in the hands of voters.

If voters do not pass Proposition 98, which “temporarily increases the personal income tax on the state’s wealthiest taxpayers and temporarily increases the sales tax by one?half percent,”  an additional $5.2 billion will be cut from public education funding, including $200 million from the University of California and the California State University systems.

Brown’s ultimatum has left us with no other viable option but to pass this tax hike. We have to pick up the slack to save higher education in California, because Brown’s administration will not back down.

“This is not nice stuff,” Brown said, at a news conference Jan 5. “But that’s what it takes to balance the budget — and that’s assuming we get the revenues.”

Not only does the new budget propose additional cuts, but it also changes things for students receiving CalGrants and loans. The GPA requirements to receive CalGrants have been raised (Cal Grant A from 3.0 to 3.25; Cal Grant B from 2.0 to 2.75; and for in-state community college transfers, from 2.4 to 2.75). In addition, students planning on becoming teachers or nurses who work for public schools and hospitals will not be able to take advantage of the programs currently absorbing parts of their student loan debt.

Meanwhile he’s allocating money that could be used to salvage the dying public university system to finance a $98 billion high-speed rail line.

This is an attack on education on all fronts. CSU students come from all over the place, and our
education is funded by a combination of scholarships, loans, Cal Grants, mom and dad and, for a lot of us, our low-wage, part-time jobs. Increasingly, many students are unable to afford classes (nor do they get the classes they need) and teachers who make barely nothing are soon going to be unable to afford to live while drowning in student loan debt.

Maybe the government is not finding proper solutions because it doesn’t understand the problem. The budget is full of bureaucratic speech that, on a good day, is difficult for Joe Schmoe to figure out.

This year, it’s been difficult even for government officials to decipher exactly how they should budget and legislature is in the process of laying down in precise language, exactly what programs will be cut. School districts are unsure how to budget because they currently have no money to allocate, according to KPCC, a Southern California Public Radio station. Without guidance from the governor, schools are worried they will have to cut all programs until they know how much money they will be receiving.

As CSU students panic about higher tuition (which has nearly doubled in the past four years), they face more difficulty in acquiring classes and the idea of taking on a third or fourth job to pay for it all, the budget plan claims an increase in state funding to higher education.

Wait, what?

Returning funding to state universities is, of course, a long-term plan for higher education, and Brown believes that an increase in state funding can begin for the 2013-14 school year. That is, if the tax hike passes. For the sake of our future, we’re going to desperately need it to pass.

Without higher education in this century, a well-paying job is a needle in a haystack, at best. Without higher education, the positions that are currently filled with baby boomers are soon going to find themselves without a qualified prospect. Sorry, governor, but you and your colleagues cannot run California forever, and higher education is the one investment that should never be skimped on.

Brown is trying to scare the everyday people already struggling with unemployment and the recession into forking over more money to save higher education. Perhaps a tax hike is necessary, but to also cut education funding is theft. Theft from every student who has ever dreamed of higher education. Theft from the people who have returned to school to better their lives because minimum wage just doesn’t cut it anymore.

But most importantly, it’s theft from California and the future.

The time has come for us to make education a priority and vote for Prop 98, since appealing to the government has proven to be fruitless. We have protested and marched, we have left classrooms and we have sat in classrooms, but the government has still found that higher education is less of a priority than a high-speed bullet train that can get us from point A to point B faster.

Only by the time the building begins, we might not have any qualified engineers to build it.

  • BigMac

    Let the voters decide.

  • S. Crisp

    Brown cuts education and public safety programs to try to extort more tax money from Californians. The real cuts need to be made in government worker salaries and pensions, and in recouping some of the $10 billion that illegal immigration is costing the state every year.

  • Anonymous

    Brown is blackmailing Californians. Why does Brown always pick-on the most vulnerable and education? He should close corporate and commercial tax loopholes, introduce an oil extraction tax, an oil corporation, windfall-profits tax, Chevron made $27 billions in 2011 and paid no federal tax and trim the bond interest paid to Wall Street. These taxes have to be rolled-back. These budget cuts will proolng the recession.

  • Anonymous

    Contrary to what one believes, a college education does not equal success. There is much talk about needing more engineers and individuals in the fields of science, but just how many students actually take those programs? How many meanwhile are taking programs in, to be frank, financially poor programs? Does anyone really think their degree in ethnic studies will be of much help? 

    Higher education is facing a bubble. Students who have no business in college are rampant, and they would be better off spending their time learning a trade or simply working. You don’t need a degree to have success financially. 

    Back in my freshmen writing course we had an assignment where we were told to write letters to those who had dropped out in the first semester, urging them to return for their own sake. I refused to do so and encouraged the reader instead to remain away from the campus, save themselves four years of GEs and expenses, and spend that time/money on really learning how to be part of a business. I stand by that letter. 

    College isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. You don’t need a piece of government paper to prove your worth.

    (Now gold on the other hand…)