Saving California's Master Plan Through Tax Reform
That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) endorse the recommendations in “The $48 Fix1: Reclaiming California’s Master Plan for Higher Education,” a plan that lays out a strategy for making higher education free to eligible California residents through tax reform; and be it further
That the ASCSU urge the leadership of the three segments of higher education, the governing boards thereof, their faculties, staff, students, and alumni to embark immediately upon an inter-segmental campaign to promote such a plan; and be it further
That the ASCSU distribute this resolution to the CSU Board of Trustees, CSU Chancellor, CSU campus Presidents, CSU campus Senate Chairs, CSU campus Senate Executive Committees, CSU Provosts/Vice Presidents of Academic Affairs, CSU campus articulation officers, California Faculty Association (CFA), California State Student Association (CSSA), CSU Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association (CSUERFA), Academic Senate for the California Community Colleges, Academic Senate of the University of California, California Community Colleges’ Board of Governors, and the University of California Board of Regents.
RATIONALE: The erosion of funding for higher education in the state of California has nearly decimated the Master Plan of 1960, a plan that sought to guarantee that the public good would be permanently served by ensuring access to a virtually no-cost, high-quality college degree to all eligible Californians. The Master Plan’s original intent has been replaced by a system of tuition and fees that are increasingly to be borne by individuals and their families. At the same time, the state’s leaders in both government and business warn that the state will, in a few decades, suffer from a dearth of college-educated citizens—indeed, that the engine of the state’s prosperity could well be compromised because of what the Public Policy Institute of California has estimated will be over a million fewer college-educated people than what will be necessary to sustain prosperity in this state by the year 20302. Yet, the one sustainable way to ensure access to a university education, that is, regular, predictable public funding, has been replaced by too many short-term initiatives and cosmetic fixes to promote the production of degrees. “The $48 Fix: Reclaiming California’s Master Plan for Higher Education,” in contrast, lays out a number of scenarios for tax reform that would provide the necessary funding into the future. These scenarios, either individually or in combination, include a progressive income tax, Prop 13 reform, an oil severance tax, an estate tax, a re-purposing of Cal Grant funds, to permanently close the gap in public funding for the three segments of higher education. The allusion to a “$48 fix” refers to the amount of annual tax increase that would affect those who fall into the median of wage-earners in California: those with an adjusted gross income of just under $40,000 a year. Those with the ability to pay more would be asked to contribute more, as those who earn less would be taxed less. Someone with an adjusted gross income of between $90,000 and $99,000, for example, would pay about $378 per year toward ensuring a free university education for all eligible California residents.
The “$48 Fix” has been endorsed by the California Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP); the California Faculty Association (CFA), the University of California Student Association, and a number of local unions. Outside California, there are indications that the possibility of a free college education for eligible students is gaining some political traction, as was recently the case in New York State when Governor Cuomo floated a similar proposal.
Such a plan suggests a sea-change in Californians’ thinking about higher education as a public good worth supporting through tax revenue — or, in fact, a return to the original promise of the Master Plan of 1960. The benefits could well be monumental, leaving the University of California (UC), CSU, and the California Community Colleges (CCC), freer to embark upon more meaningful and sustained efforts to improve access and equity in advancing their educational missions.
Approved – March 16-17, 2017