Remember two years ago when the San Diego County Board of Supervisors gave themselves a $19,000 raise despite community opposition and testimony? After two dozen people from groups representing labor, faith organizations and families addressed the supervisors, opposing the raise, with many saying the money could be better spent on services to help the needy in the county, the supervisors ignored that call to a higher purpose and voted themselves the raise.
Indeed, tackling issues of education, homelessness, affordable housing, transportation and climate are tough enough without taking limited precious resources from these incredibly important issues and paying yourself first.
Today, college costs are at their highest point ever at California’s public universities. During the recession, both the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) raised tuition to make up for state funding cuts—state General Fund support for UC and CSU dropped by about 20 percent (about $2.2 billion) between 2007 and 2013. Community college fees have tripled since 2003. Our kids had to go deep into debt to attain a degree.
That is why I applaud AB 930 which would prohibit the California State University Board of Trustees from raising the salaries of school executives during the same year a tuition and fees increase is passed by the Trustees. Over 20 million students attend colleges around the country and 15 million of those students are in public colleges and 2 million of those are in California and another 2 million students in the 115 community colleges around the state. If California is to remain steadfast on controlling costs for our students, then controlling costs must include stopping the rising salaries of executives which is already among the highest in the country.
Thanks to AB 19, passed two years ago, there is no tuition for community college during the first year of college for all students, regardless of income factors. This is an incredible first step toward making college an attainable opportunity for any student who wants it without the burden of enormous debt afterwards. The success of this program is dependent on our appointed and elected officials making California’s college education experience an affordable one and the best education experience in the world.
If our college executives do not believe their executive pay is enough, then get out of the way and let those who are committed to these goals run our public colleges. A new generation of college students are finding their way through the process and deserve to land a degree without tens of thousands of dollars of debt.
Alan Geraci, a former candidate for the 75th Assembly District is a consumer attorney