Dear Governor Brown, Speaker Atkins, and President de Leon:
As chapters of the College Democrats and Young Democrats all across California, we are writing to express our concern regarding the persistent underfunding of higher education, particularly at the UC and CSU systems. While we commend efforts to stabilize tuition, such as your recent votes on the UC Board of Regents, we will not be satisfied so long as the State Government continues to balance its budget on the backs of middle and working class students. As such, we call for substantial increases in funding for the UC and CSU budgets for next fiscal year.
We are tired of overcrowded classes, cramped living spaces, and underfunded services. We are dismayed by tuition hikes that have vastly outpaced the general rate of inflation. We are disappointed with a political system that stuffs billions of dollars into a rainy day fund at a time when the budget for public universities has been out in a storm for thirty years.
We are proud that the UC and CSU systems continue to be listed among the highest quality institutions of higher education in the world, but these rankings do not capture the full picture. The way we measure the success of our universities is not merely through selectivity, graduation rates, and test scores. If we are loading up young people with so much debt as to become financially insolvent before the age of 30, then we are failing as institutions of higher learning.
We believe that the principles that guided us in the Master Plan should be the torch that guides us still. Higher education should be an opportunity for every hardworking student. Because no matter what race, ethnicity, gender, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, documentation, or socio-economic status, a student should be able make it if they try. Both our future and the future of the Great State of California depend on it.
A strong economy relies on a well educated workforce, and if California is to continue to succeed in the 21st Century, we cannot afford to turn our backs on college students. The price of higher education has reached the highest levels in history, right as college education has become the most important it has ever been in history. With student loan debt now surpassing all credit card debt in the United States, this is precisely the time to double down on our investment in higher education, not shrink from it.
It has been five years since the end of the Great Recession and two years since the passage of Proposition 30. State revenues are soaring, and now is the time for California to make a financial commitment to innovation and education. We ask as activists who campaigned for and secured the passage of Proposition 30. We ask as students who engaged our peers to combat growing political apathy. We ask as volunteers who made sure that Democrats in tight races across California knew we had their backs. It is time for you to have our backs and protect higher education.
We urge you to increase funding for the University of California and California State University.