New governor proposes cuts to higher education

Newly inaugurated Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal includes plans to slash more than $1 billion from California’s public higher education system, which has long been considered a model for other states.

Brown promised during his campaign to tackle California’s mounting debt and enforce state fiscal responsibility. In his inaugural address on January 3, Brown emphasized the necessity of budget cuts for the recovery of California’s economy.

Jerry Brown | Creative Commons

The proposed budget would cut $500 million from the University of California and the both California State University systems and $400 million from the state’s community colleges.

Ann Crigler, USC professor of political science, said the cuts to higher education will challenge the ability of state universities to award financial aid and attract esteemed faculty, something that could actually benefit a private university like USC.

“There are ramifications for the number of dollars [those schools] are going to receive for financial aid,” Crigler said. “If faculty in the UC and CSU systems are not getting support in research and salary, then it will be easier for USC to attract the best faculty.”

Although USC is a private university, the budget cuts will still affect the USC community, according to Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.

“Students are still residents of California and would end up dealing with budget cuts in a whole range of areas,” said Schnur.

One key way the cuts will affect USC is by decreasing the number of potential transfer students entering the university. As community colleges face overcrowding problems, it is becoming difficult for potential transfer students to find space in the classes they need to apply to USC.

“If our community colleges sustain reductions of this magnitude, we anticipate up to 350,000 students will be turned away next year,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott in a media statement.

In 2010, USC received a total of 9,590 transfer applications, 59 percent of which came from California community colleges and 10 percent from CSU and UC schools.

The state budget cuts are expected to total $12.5 billion and include a 10 percent decrease in state salaries, as well as a $1.5 billion slash in welfare. A final budget solution will be decided on later in the spring.