While Arnold Schwarzenegger is making claims to want “economic stimulus” with his demands for gutting environmental and labor laws, he is also undermining one of the core means of economic stimulus and recovery – higher education.
When the economy is in recession many laid-off workers take the time to return to school and finish a degree, or get new forms of training and expertise. This helps keep the workforce skilled and up-to-date on the latest innovations and insights, thereby keeping California workers globally competitive. And it can create jobs at the colleges to meet the demand. At the local community college enrollment is soaring – instructors are finding long waiting lists to get into their classes, which they haven’t seen for a long time.
For all this to work, of course, those students need financial aid, since in a recession they have a difficult time affording a return to school out of pocket. Which is why Arnold’s plan to slash Cal Grant funding is so reckless:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing major cuts in Cal Grants, the state’s main financial aid programfor college students. The most significant change would involve abandoning the state’s commitment to cover any rise in tuition for grant recipients, and it comes as officials at both the University of California and California State University are gearing up for 10% fee increases in response to the yawning state budget gap….
A spokeswoman for the governor said he “understands how difficult these cuts will be” but is responsible for leading the state through the economic crisis. “The governor doesn’t want to cut programs and he doesn’t want to raise taxes, but in the face of a $42-billion budget deficit and with the Legislature’s failure to pass a comprehensive solution, we’re simply running out of options,” she said.
Which is the typical BS being put out by the governor’s office these days, quotes not worth the paper on which they’re printed. The Legislature DID pass a comprehensive solution and Arnold vetoed it. Arnold has been completely unable to get a single Republican vote for his budgets over the last few years, yet continues to insist against all available evidence that the two parties in the Legislature try and work out some agreement, which is impossible as long as Republicans refuse to play.
Cal Grant cuts combined with yet another UC and CSU fee increase will put higher ed out of reach for thousands of qualified students and workers looking to remain competitive. California as a whole will suffer – but perhaps that’s the point, the endgame of Arnold’s term in office: destroying what remains of our shared prosperity so his friends in the elite can grab what is left over.