Thursday, April 12, 2012

Saving the UCs costs a lot less than I thought it does...

Here is an informative op-ed from business page columnist Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times.

It states two things that knocked me out:

1. If we went to a free tuition University of CA system, it would cost the State of CA $3 billion. When Meg Whitman ran for governor and said let's repeal the state capital gains tax, she was messing with $11 billion in revenue. How's that for priorities? And let's just think about how important it would be for middle class families if it was just a 50% subsidy for each admitted student? I know it would make a big difference in my son deciding to attend UC Davis, which accepted him a few weeks ago. UC Riverside, though, has been more aggressive in offering to lower my son's tuition costs and is therefore the school we as a family are most interested in as far as public institutions are concerned...

2. The State of CA is now only providing 11% of the UC revenues. That makes the UCs a lot closer to private institutions as its State support has plummeted in the past three years. The UCs must now figure out how to raise endowments as private universities do. This undermines the 1960 plan for the UC system as Jerry Brown's Dad, Pat Brown, and Clark Kerr envisioned.

Hiltzik said that the tuition increases "threaten to place a UC education out of reach of working-class and middle-class students..." It is past "threaten." There are many families who simply cannot afford the UC education that those of us in my age group could afford a generation ago.

And as Hiltzik reminds us, the money is there. It is a question of priorities. Prison spending is far more than what the State spends on UC students per capita (Compare prison spending per prisoner, which is $49,000, with the UC student * spending from the State). And if we would just learn to tax commercial property as we did before Proposition 13 in 1978,** we would also find there is plenty of money to invest in education in this State.

* The link overstates the State spending because it assumes 100% of the UC tuition and room/board, etc. cost is State government subsidized. Wrong. It's 11% of the budgeted sum, which would work out to a sum that is quite a bit less than the $32,500 average UC tuition, room/board, etc. costs per student.

** Here is the money quote from the article from Bloomberg:

"In Los Angeles County, where a quarter of the state’s $4.38 trillion in assessed property value is located, commercial and apartment buildings represented 60 percent of the tax rolls in 1975, while single-family homes accounted for 40 percent. Today that ratio is almost reversed."

(Edited)

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