Our View: Brown’s budget should include benchmarks

Staff and Staff

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After reviewing Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office is telling legislators to throw out certain parts of the budget because according to their review, if the legislature chooses to allocate more money to the CSU, there needs to be some strings attached.

Of the key proposals to be eliminated, one includes the $125 million boost to state funding of the Cal State University system. The LAO also recommends cutting the base increases for the University of California and the California Community College systems.

Essentially, the LAO has concluded that Brown should be worried about the state of higher education, but his proposals are not a step in the right direction. The question is, why should the state invest more money into systems that have failed in the past?

The LAO says there are not enough requirements for the CSU set in the budget proposal. The concern is the CSU will use the funding for its own interests, such as research and administrative support, rather than broad public interest. Without set benchmarks, the CSU and other systems are free from much legislative control. With so much free reign, the CSU could misuse the proposed increased funding, the LAO report says.

We agree that there are very few requirements for the CSU to meet listed within Brown’s budget proposal. Even though Brown says there is nothing wrong with his proposal, you cannot ignore the fact that there is very little specificity to it. When Brown talks about spending more money on technology, what does he specifically mean?

The LAO has a point to be weary about moving forward with this budget proposal. However, telling legislators to just scratch out increased state support for higher education is a little rash.

Instead, the governor should work with the CSU to create benchmarks that will help get us on the right track. That way the CSU can still get the money it so desperately needs and at the same time, be held accountable for what it chooses to invest in.

For example, there should be incentives to graduate more students on time. If the CSU reached a certain graduation rate, it should trigger a flow of more money into the CSU from the state. This and many more benchmarks could bring more success to higher education in California.

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