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Students And Legislators Respond To Higher Ed Cutbacks In California

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

February 27, 2009

Students and legislators are reacting to an expected 10 percent cut from state funding in this year's budget at California State University and the University of California.

In response to the budget cuts, KSBY 6 Action News in California reports that faculty and students are faxing state lawmakers to push for more funds from the $787 billion stimulus package. Additional federal aid, they believe, would help stave off increased tuition, fewer student loans and eliminated classes.

"We have to convince the legislatures and the other leaders to make sure that they get enough stimulus money from the feds so that it doesn't trigger any further cuts in CSU or UC budgets," explained Richard Saenz, president of the California Faculty Association Cal Poly Chapter, in an interview with KSBY 6 Action News.

Meanwhile, this week State Sen. Leland Yee proposed legislation that would prohibit raises for executives at public colleges and universities in California during years that tuition is raised. The Chronicle of Higher Education notes that the bill would apply to UC, CSU and the state's community colleges.

"This is a different time," Yee said in an interview, "and you can't just simply go to the consumers and the general public and keep raising your prices to enrich yourself. That's the same message I'm trying to send to UC: These are tough economic times, and you should not look to student fees and tuition as a cash cow for your largess."

Because of significant state funding cuts, the cost of higher education is expected to rise in California colleges. Yee noted that he did not expect the bill to prevent tuition hikes, but he hoped it would make school officials reconsider raising prices.

Finally, the California Chronicle reports that Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico yesterday introduced California state legislation that would expand funding for UC, CSU, and the state's community colleges. The bill, AB 656, would create a severance tax on oil extracted within California, which would be used to expand funding for higher education.

Torrico noted that other states currently charge over 12 percent from multi-billion dollar oil companies. California is the only state where oil is extracted without a tax.

The bill would create the California Higher Education Endowment Corporation to oversee the funds generated by the oil severance tax and to allocate them to UC, CSU and community colleges.

"California is on the wrong track heading in the wrong direction," Torrico said. "We must invest more in higher education. It is a solid down payment on our economic future."

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