The Bigger Picture of the UC Tuition Hike

In a state facing yearly budget deficits, other victims have fallen prey to the California government’s financial mismanagement.

In a move angering many students enrolled in the University of California education system, the UC Board of Regents overwhelmingly voted for a 32% tuition fee increase (or $2,500) effective summer 2010.

Higher tuition rates are partially a result of state cuts to education. The board’s decision means more crowded classrooms at already strained community colleges and a delay in equipped college graduates entering the workforce. Despite student protests, regents said that higher fees will prevent further layoffs, course reductions, and will keep financial aid available.

If California’s government officials wish to stimulate the downtrodden economy, one of their best targets for spurring growth is the next generation of young people training in its higher education facilities. Granted, monetary inflation also plays a role in rising tuition. At the same time, additional funds would be available if government didn’t devote so much to the state’s overly generous welfare programs. Granted, the Democratic legislature has already cut some of these programs. At the same time, it still begs the question: Why were these programs designed to foster a long term dependence on the state if they were eventually going to factor into the state’s current budget crisis?

Instead of encouraging welfare recipients to become wards of the state, shouldn’t California’s welfare system aim to eventually free individuals of government aid? If the state must have a role in funding either welfare or education, wouldn’t it serve the state’s interests to err on the side of education? Money saved from welfare reform could be dedicated to education instead, its end being to prepare college graduates to create jobs that contribute to California’s economy.

With the 2010 gubernatorial election approaching, the next governor faces the complex task of pulling California from continued financial ruin and in dealing with a legislature overzealous to raise taxes. Having already suffered perpetual financial incompetence mostly at the hands of a Democratic legislature, it’s time for voters to send a loud message to the gubernatorial candidates and to the legislature in next year’s election.

At the executive level, this state is in dire need of one with a demonstrated record of financial savviness, one who can straighten out the state’s financial priorities, and put immense pressure on the legislature to be fiscally responsible.

Fortified leadership with a financial acumen: This is what California’s people need in the next governor. It’s what will remedy a wide array of areas ranging from education to infrastructure. At the end of the day, what UC students should really be protesting for is that of government fiscal responsibility from the top down, from the governor’s office to the state legislature. This is one of many steps to be taken on a path to true reform in the UC system.