In all likelihood, this election will send you to Sacramento alongside a lopsided state Legislature, perhaps even one with a supermajority. It will be tempting, of course, to work exclusively with the majority party. Such a practice will surely prove convenient, but this is not what California needs or deserves.
Compromise must not be a dirty word. There is neither evil nor betrayal inherent in pragmatism. Rather, it is the hallmark of responsible governance to understand and represent all constituents — even those who did not vote for you or your party.
As students of one of the largest and most prestigious public universities not only in California but the entire United States, we recognize the importance of maintaining and improving public education at every level. Two years ago, we were promised that the tax revenues generated by the people and small businesses of California through Proposition 30 would be dedicated to education. Yet much of these funds have not been put toward either the K-12 schools or California’s public university system. In addition, minority party efforts to hold such funds accountable were glibly shot down along party lines. We hope that you will make education a top priority of your administration and will join Republicans in pushing the Legislature to ensure that the revenues from Prop. 30 are spent as we were promised they would be: on improving classroom education and keeping tuition from rising above already-too-high levels.
But the problems in education go beyond just funding, and merely doling out ever-increasing sums from Sacramento will not fix public education. While we realize political realities constrain your range of action, something must be done to combat the near-limitless power of public sector unions in this state, particularly in the realm of public education. While the teacher unions and UC faculty and administrators may be some of the biggest outside political spenders in the entire country, it is important to remember that you are beholden not to them, but to us: the citizens of the Golden State. We hope you will take steps to make it easier to remove ineffective and poorly performing teachers from classrooms and enable successful teachers an opportunity to thrive. When public-sector unions can control legislators, out-prioritize students and shut down major transportation systems at will, it becomes terribly clear that such a stranglehold must be broken.
We also ask that you make efforts to combat the massive administrative bloat of the UC and CSU systems. Over the last decade, tuition has skyrocketed, and much of this has gone towards the hiring and salaries of unnecessary and often redundant “administrative staff” instead of professors. These are issues that affect not just ourselves but more than a million California students and their families.
Some of us will be graduating in the coming year. While we look back fondly at our time at UC Berkeley, there is a real sense of unease felt by many students about our prospects after college. Upon receiving our diplomas, we will enter an unsteady economy and a precarious job market. Our apprehension is made all the more real by California‘s almost palpable hostility toward job creators. While the state’s efforts to save the planet from itself and to ensure that no one — no matter how badly off they may be — goes without weed are noble endeavors, they cannot come at the expense of a thriving economy. If the government drives jobs out of the state, we will have no choice but to follow.
We hope that you will keep our concerns in mind as you work to make California better during your term as governor and that you will work with both sides of the aisle to ensure that our state is governed frugally and responsibly.
Jacob F. Grant is a former Daily Cal columnist and a current board member of the Berkeley College Republicans. Brendan Pinder is the executive director of the Berkeley College Republicans.