Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Master Plan Hearings

Yesterday the legislature's Joint Committee for Review of the Master Plan of Higher Education held its first hearing. Testimony centered on the damage done to California's higher education systems by the state's erratic budget process, and the risk to California's economic future if the problem isn't addressed.

CSUEU President Pat Gantt testified, as did CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, UC President Mark Yudof, and California Community College Chancellor Jack Scott. Gantt told legislators:

You can neither cut your way to profitability in the private sector nor slash your way to a balanced budget in the public sector. At some point, you must find new revenue streams to get into the black or to balance a state budget.

Gantt also urged the legislature to scrutinize CSU budget allocations such as the expansion of Management Personnel Plan (MPP) employees, stating:

In the last three years, the number of managers has grown to its highest levels ever, even as CSU leaders call for cutbacks on every other front. Transparency in both budget allocations and decisions is in the best interest for all General Fund agencies. Taxpayers have entrusted us with that charge, and the CSU must do everything possible to honor that trust.

The San Jose Mercury News wrote:

California's 50-year-old "Master Plan for Higher Education" is not broken — in fact, nations such as China and Singapore are trying to replicate it. But it is in peril because of inadequate funding, college administrators testified Monday morning in Sacramento.

The Los Angeles Times summed things up:

Of all the damage that has been done in recent years by Sacramento's habitual flight from fiscal responsibility — particularly during the disastrous Schwarzenegger years — none has been more injurious or perverse than the budgetary mistreatment of the state's universities and community colleges. Starved for adequate funds, what was once California's greatest guarantor of social mobility based on merit has become, in fact, a force for the growing inequality that threatens this state's future.


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