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Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Jerry May Revise California Out of Existence

As you all have probably heard, Governor Brown released his May Budget Revision with bad news all around.  Faced with lower than expected revenues and higher than predicted costs, Jerry is proposing significant mid year cuts to a series of important health and human services, support structures for the poor, financial assistance to students.  He temporarily shields K-12 from immediate cuts but makes it clear that they will be cut drastically (to the tune of 5.5 Billion) if his revenue proposals do not pass in the fall. (33-40).  For higher education the prospect is bleak: immediately UC will lose access (at least for a year) to 38M of the 90M that the January Budget had proposed to help in funding the UC Pensions.  But the more dire prospect comes in the increased size of triggered cuts if Brown's revenue proposals fail:  both CSU and UC will lose $250M instead of the original $200M and the CC will lose about $300M.  Even before the triggers we can expect that the Regents, and perhaps the CSU Board, will be proposing tuition increases this summer.



Two things need to be made clear about the May Revise.  First, Governor Brown apparently has decided to hold the state's educational future hostage to the success of his revenue proposals.  It is possible that this strategy is a smart one politically:  Californians have repeatedly indicated that they are willing to pay higher taxes to support education.  Brown has decided to put this claim to a test.  Unfortunately, his proposals are not polling all that well these days.

But we should also recognize that Brown has chosen to frame the budget situation as an either/or: either devastating cuts or the success of his proposals (where we will get less devastating cuts).  Although it is true that he is bound to produce a balanced budget, as Dan Mitchell at the UCLA Faculty Association Blog has repeatedly pointed out (here, here, and here just for a few instances) even the Legislative Analyst has recognized that rather than eliminating inherited debt immediately as Brown insists, the debt could be lowered over time and in a more gradual fashion.  It is his insistence on eliminating what he calls a "wall of debt" and instituting an immediate surplus that drives his depiction of the size of the State's budget deficit.  It also speaks to his failure to explain to Californians that--as the California Budget Project pointed out again today--the remarkable decline in corporate tax contributions due to the rewriting of the tax codes that is a driving force in the decline of the State's revenues.  Brown's strategy is a political and ideological choice; not a fact of nature.

In so doing, Brown is acting out his own version of the European Austerians whose insistence on debt reduction rather than growth has driven down revenues, driven up unemployment, and threatened to send Europe into an even deeper spiral of economic crisis.  Unfortunately, in California there seems to be no organized political institution articulating a counter-austerian position as there is in Europe.

Brown's destructive framing does not, of course, mean that we should not support his proposed revenue increases.  They appear all that may stand to prevent a further hollowing out of the public sector and a meaningful re-engagement with public education and the future of the state.  But his May Revise is another example of the political class's unwillingness to put into practice concrete plans to establish a flourishing society in America.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

University of California Berkeley senior management response to Gov. Brown's new budget, charge Californians higher tuition.

Cal on an all in cost is the most expensive public university in the USA.

Anonymous said...

That just isn't true. At 36,000 tuition, or 49k total, U Virginia is comparable but the quality of resources , class size etc is better funded. I know we're not supposed to make that comparison, to Michigan, UVA and other more privatized public universities but out of state students there are probably getting much better class room facilities, IT, support, class size etc. I wish this were part of the real conversation, not an impolitic taboo, but there you have it.

Anonymous said...

u are missinformed may 15 anonymous...Harvard on an all in cost is less costly than Cal...Chancellor Birgeneau prefers to increase tuition to tax the users of Cal google access affordability to university of california berkeley is farther and farther away.
suggestion stop reading the Cal press releases...broaden your vision

Anonymous said...

Access, affordability to University is farther and farther out of reach. University of California Berkeley Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau is outspoken on why elite public Cal. should ‘charge Californians much more’ tuition. Number 1 ranked Harvard is now less costly (all in costs) than Cal. UC Berkeley tuition rising faster than costs at other universities. Birgeneau’s ‘charge more’ tuition makes Cal. the most expensive American public university!

Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) likes to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar expected. The Chancellor’s ‘charge Californians more’ tuition skyrocketed fees by an average 14% per year from 2006 to 2011-12 academic years. If Birgeneau had allowed fees to rise at the same rate of inflation over the past 10 years they would still be in reach of most middle income students. Disparities in higher education defeat the promise of equality of opportunity for Californians. An unacceptable legacy for students, parents, politicians!

Additional funding should sunset. The economic downturn is devastating California. Simply asking taxpayers for more money to fund inept Cal. leadership, old expensive higher education models and support burdensome faculty, chancellor salaries, and pensions is not the answer.

UC Berkeley is to maximize access to the widest number of Californians at a reasonable cost: mission of diversity and equality of opportunity. Birgeneau’s and Provost George Breslauer’s ($306,000 salary) ‘charge Californians more’ tuition denies middle income Californians the transformative value of Cal’s higher education.

Opinions? UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu Calif. State Senators, Assembly members.

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