When Gov. Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano agreed to state funding increases to the University of California by 4 percent a year for four years back in 2015, the university should have been protected from budgetary surprises. But this month, Brown failed to uphold his end of the bargain.
In Brown’s 2018 California budget proposal, released Jan. 10, UC funding is increased by only 3 percent — a percentage difference that is causing the system to miss out on millions of promised dollars.
California has disinvested from public higher education for years, and still, university officials come to the negotiating table again and again in good faith efforts to compromise. Last May, amid pressure from the governor, the UC system capped out-of-state enrollment to maintain its dedication to California students. The university has also committed to increasing in-state enrollment by thousands each year, as per Brown’s wishes. The UC has consistently held up its end of the bargain.
More and more students are being packed into lecture halls, lines at college advising offices are only growing longer and guaranteed campus housing remains out of reach for most. The university cannot maintain its high-quality education if elected state officials keep demanding higher student enrollments without providing the sufficient funds to do so.
The UC is in a financial crisis. Already, it has implemented a $282 tuition hike for this academic year in a desperate attempt to generate funds. And the UC Board of Regents is planning to discuss another potential tuition hike at its upcoming meeting for the next academic year. Students shouldn’t be forced to mobilize to stop tuition hikes when California can’t even fulfill its basic funding promises.
Tuition hikes are not only completely contradictory to UC’s mission to provide affordable education to state residents, but they’re also unsustainable. Without the 4 percent Brown promised, the UC will have to continue to make cuts and raise tuition.
For years, Brown has been predicting that California will face a recession, and has since invested heavily in a “rainy day fund” for a fiscal emergency. Under Brown’s budget proposal, this rainy day fund would hold 10 percent of California’s general fund revenue, giving the state $13.5 billion by June 30, 2019. Clearly, Brown is looking to prepare for the future. So why is he hesitant to invest in our students who could help boost the state’s economy?
At a time when President Donald Trump publicly and outrageously diminishes the importance of higher education, it is more critical than ever that our governor reaffirms the value of quality, public schools.
As members of the state legislature work with Brown to finalize the budget, they must remember who elected them to their offices in the first place: the hardworking, educated students and families of California.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.