Governor Brown’s Plan For More College Graduates
June 5, 2013 | Written by: Gary Toebben, President and CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
College graduates are the key to California’s future economic competitiveness. For decades, we have taken for granted California’s abundance of highly educated residents relative to the rest of the U.S. and the world. We achieved this wealth of human resources because we invested in a magnificent public higher education system that gave California’s young people a leg up and attracted other talented students from across the country and around the world. After graduation, these students helped build the California economy.
In recent years, due to a decline in revenue and a decision to place a higher priority on other state services, we as a state have disinvested in higher education. For the first time ever, California’s young adults run the risk of being less educated and less trained than their counterparts a generation ago.
For these reasons, the Chamber has been active in articulating the need for increased funding for higher education and for reforms to improve our higher education systems. We participated on the California Community Colleges Student Success Taskforce and sponsored legislation to improve community college completion rates.
Gov. Brown has recently proposed a plan to drive improvements in the University of California and California State University systems. His budget proposal would allocate substantial multi-year funding increases to help our public universities recover from years of budget cuts. At the same time, he has asked the State’s university systems to freeze tuition for the next four years and to commit to increasing on-time graduation rates, the number of transfer students accepted and the total number of degrees awarded.
The Governor’s proposal represents an important first step in addressing a decline in college completion rates. We believe this approach is fair, and that this plan, while not yet final, appears well-balanced and moderate. We are confident that California’s world-renowned university systems can rise to the challenge. It will be hard work and require new strategies, but all parties will benefit when the result is an exceptional workforce and a brighter future for the economy of our state.
We look forward to working with our local systems as they embrace this call to improve outcomes for students and for our State. A renewed commitment to public higher education by all stakeholders will be necessary to assure prosperity and to continue the promise that California has made to its young people for generations.