Friday, June 19, 2009

The costs of higher education in California

Investing In California Higher Education Benefits All Californians

By Alberto Torrico
Assembly Majority Leader

Republicans just don’t get it. The rest of us understand that the worst national recession in our lifetime demands a shared sacrifice. But the right wing Republicans continue to fight for big corporations enjoying record profits.

Take archconservative George Runner. He actually suggested on the conservative blog Flash Report that asking oil companies to pay for tapping a California resource would empower Hugo Chavez. That’s ridiculous, but it’s typical of the GOP’s blind allegiance to big business.

It’s time to move beyond such meaningless rhetoric. That’s why I’ve introduced AB 656 to raise much-needed funds for the UC, CSU and California Community College systems through an oil severance tax. We are the only oil-producing state in the nation not to levy this tax. Conservative strongholds like Texas, Alaska and Louisiana, plus 18 other states generate revenue for vital services to their residents. In California, we put the burden on working families.

California’s Republican Governor thinks it is a good idea to close down our state’s oldest public law school, turn away over 20,000 high school seniors from our college campuses, and to eliminate Cal Grants, the funds that allowed me, and countless other Californians, to become the first in our families to attend college.

That’s after 7 years of fee increases, including this year’s that will force University of California undergraduates to shell out an additional $662 and California State University students $306. California’s long-time promise of an affordable higher education is jeopardized by declining state support. are raising concerns that access to affordable higher education is in jeopardy because of declining state support.

AB 656 will empower hundreds of thousands of students by keeping college affordable and making sure they have timely access to courses they need to graduate. Instead of working two jobs and taking years to get their degrees because of reduced course offerings, students would join the workforce more quickly.

AB 656 will reinvigorate our economy by ensuring that a steady stream of well-trained and educated workers keeps flowing into our key industries, our classrooms and our health-care facilities. A recent Public Policy Institute of California study found that if current trends continue, California will face a shortfall of one million college graduates by 2025. That would devastate our economy and the thousands of companies that rely on these institutions to supply skilled workers.
Posted from the California Progress Report.
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