State Sen. Glazer introduces $2 billion higher education bond bill

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In an effort to emphasize the importance of educational facilities, a $2 billion higher education bond bill to improve facilities across University of California and California State University campuses was introduced Thursday.

The bill, which is co-authored by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, aims to improve the quality of higher education facilities at UC and CSU campuses. The bonds have been set to appear before voters in the 2018 general election.

“For many generations, California taxpayers have been proud supporters of the greatest higher education system in America,” Glazer said in his press release. “Unfortunately, we have allowed classrooms and libraries to deteriorate, affecting our ability to educate our students.

Carol Christ, campus interim executive vice chancellor and provost, said she strongly believes in Glazer’s bill, especially considering that the last state bond issued toward higher education was in 2006.

“This (bond) is particularly critical for the Berkeley campus because it is the oldest campus, with seismic challenges and many historic buildings,” Christ said in an email. “The buildings of our campus are as important a resource as our endowment, and we do not currently have an adequate plan for capital financing, including deferred maintenance.”

The bill has attracted the attention of several students across campus. They see the bill as a tool that can improve campus facilities, provided that it is implemented correctly.

David Craig, treasurer for the Berkeley College Republicans, said he believes that the bill can be efficient provided that it is not a temporary solution.

“The UC system does not have a good track record in recent years of managing its finances,” Craig said in an email. “I am for the bill, provided it is part of a comprehensive effort to repair California’s educational budgetary catastrophe, and not just a temporary, (taxpayer)-funded patch on a growing problem.”

Rhea Misra, president of Cal Berkeley Democrats, said in an email that while she hopes that the bill will prevent the need for measures such as tuition hikes, she is cautious that it might not be sufficient.

Misra said she hopes that if the bill causes reduced tuition hikes, money could be invested in refining the quality and access of higher education in California.

Some students referenced the time at which the UC system was required to admit more students but was not given the appropriate funding to do so. Campus freshman Megha Torpunuri said she hopes that the introduction of the bill results in better housing, food security, academic advising facilities and mental health counselors for UC and CSU students.

Other students mentioned that although Proposition 51 was passed in November, it is still not specifically catered toward the UC and CSU campuses.

“I think the bill is a step in the right direction towards bettering our school system,” said campus freshman Alekya Mallina. “I know that the UCs were required last year to admit more students but were not given the funding to support the increased population, so hopefully bills such as this one could be beneficial to the (higher) education system.”

Contact Ishira Shrivatsa at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @i_shrivatsa.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Carol Christ is the interim executive vice chancellor and provost at the Center for Studies in Higher Education. In fact, Christ is the interim executive vice chancellor and provost of UC Berkeley.