Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tax gas and oil companies to keep California State Universities great

The future of California depends on a strong CSU
By Enrique C. Ochoa
Daily News Los Angeles
Updated: 08/03/2009

California's recent budget deal is a major blow to the historic mission of the California State University system. At its 23 campuses, classes are being slashed, tuition increased by 30 percent, students turned away, graduations delayed, salaries cut, and positions eliminated.

As administrators scramble to address the budget deficit, political decisions are being made that will cause irreparable damage to California's great university system. The new budget is a victory for conservative forces that have long sought to limit the public sector and roll back the social and civil rights gains of the 1960s and 1970s...

Since the 1980s, California has seen the chipping away of the public university, with the CSU receiving a declining share of the state budget, rising tuition and many forms of corporatization.

With a $538 million budget cut this fiscal year and an even greater deficit predicted for next year, the CSU's mission of providing affordable high quality education to Californians is in jeopardy...

One innovative step is Assembly Bill 656, introduced by California State Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico. It would levy a 9.9 percent tax on all oil and natural gas extracted from California to be a reliable source of funding for higher education.

By investing in the CSU, we are investing in our economic future and providing opportunities for Californians that, in the long run, benefit us all.

Enrique C. Ochoa is Director of Latin American Studies and Professor of History at California State University, Los Angeles.

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