Two advocacy groups released reports on public higher education in California Tuesday, arguing for changes as ambitious as free tuition and as practical as accountability reforms.
One report, from the Reclaim California Higher Education Coalition, argues for restoring per-student state funding to 2000 levels after adjusting for inflation, for offering all students seats and for eliminating tuition in order to return California to the original spirit of its vaunted Master Plan for Higher Education. Such moves would only cost the median California household $48 per year in additional state income tax, it says -- although it uses a funding formula that would cost high-income families much more, as much as $50,240 for those with adjusted gross income over $1 million. It would also cost lower-income families less.
The other report, from College Futures Foundation, says California should change the way it funds its public university systems and makes financial decisions about them. The report notably calls for reform in revenue stability and predictability, arguing California should find a way to keep revenue from spiking during good years and plummeting during lean years. It also calls for improving budgeting practices for employee benefits, having state universities do more to reallocate the money they have toward student success and for California to improve its processes for accountability and transparency.
The two reports come as the University of California and California State systems could approve the first tuition increases in six years. Governor Jerry Brown has also proposed phasing out the state’s scholarship program for middle-class students, a proposal The Los Angeles Times reports has become a source of stress for students and parents.