Newsom distances himself from Brown on higher education

Shannon Hamilton/Staff
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the creation of a work group designed to discuss funding California’s higher education system.

In a radio interview Wednesday morning, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed strong support for expanded state funding for higher education and distanced himself from Gov. Jerry Brown’s policies on the issue.

Higher education, Newsom said, is California’s “conveyor belt for talent.” He spoke out forcefully against state cuts to higher education and expressed alarm that there had not been a stronger public outcry in response to the cuts.

“Higher education is the reason this economy has succeeded over the last half-century plus,” Newsom said. “We are losing that key advantage. You’ve doubled tuition since 2007, you’ve tripled it since 2001, you’re pricing out the middle class. This is a serious code-red crisis.”

Newsom, who sits on the UC Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees, offered only limited praise for Brown’s leadership.

“We’ve got a Governor who is doing a very good job focusing on solvency, but what we need is a vision for greatness again,” Newsom said.

When Michael Krasny, who conducted the interview for KQED radio, asked Newsom if he was critical of Brown’s higher education policy, Newsom said “it’s hard not to be,” noting that the state cut $2 billion from higher education in 12 months.

Newsom also suggested that he was unable to influence the Brown administration’s higher education policies as much as he would like, saying that Brown is “not necessarily the most collaborative executive.”

Jason Willick covers higher education.