Author: Judy

Measure LA could weaken the state’s public universities

Measure LA could weaken the state’s public universities

Endorsement: Vote yes on Measure LA to invest in community colleges and community research centers.

Measure LA, which comes before state lawmakers on Thursday, will create a three-tiered system for funding research and educational opportunities in California.

In some cases, the money is directed to public colleges and universities. In others, it goes directly to specific community-based institutions.

The idea, according to its proponents, is to use the additional funding to strengthen California’s higher-education system. But Measure LA may ultimately have the unintended consequence of weakening the public universities that provide the vast majority of the state’s course offerings, which in turn could cause the University of California — considered the leader of the higher-education system — to lose more federal research dollars than it currently receives.

And that, say supporters, would open up the state to more funding for higher education.

“It’s a good policy, but it’s a bad budget,” said Robert A. Litan, a professor of political science at Sonoma State.

This new funding model would be “very different” from the current system, said Peter Cappellazzo, vice president of the California Coalition of Community College Presidents. “They are not looking for a subsidy.”

Other changes in the plan would boost student access and broaden the pool of institutions eligible for funding. Under the current funding model, students attend public colleges, but private colleges — including the University of California — are not eligible, unless they have partnerships with the state.

Proponents say the measure would bring about a “dramatic expansion of funding for community colleges,” and “the public universities can’t absorb all those additional funds,” Litan said.

At the center of the funding dispute are the California Community Colleges, a state agency that operates three community colleges. The colleges currently get about $900 million in state funding annually. The UC schools are getting an additional $900 million each year, according to California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Opponents, including UC supporters and Democratic Assemblymen Phil Ting and Anthony Portantino, say the UC system currently receives $9 billion in annual funding from the state. They contend the

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