A $7 billion bond measure that could have funded a California State University, Stockton died on the state Assembly floor Friday. Partially because the CSU system didn’t support it.
Feel free to join me in being irritated with the California State University Chancellor’s Office. The chancellor supported a rival, $4 billion bond measure that would fund repairs to existing CSU and University of California campuses but build no new ones.
“We have taken a position of support for SB1225 (Glazer) as half of the bonds issued under the bill would be specifically designated for CSU and would help the university to address its deferred maintenance and capital project needs,” said Michael Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for the Chancellor’s Office.
In other words, the bill by state Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, specified the CSUs would get half of the bond money, while AB2771, the $7 billion measure co-authored by Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, did not.
OK, but that doesn’t address the core issue from San Joaquin’s perspective: CSU leaders don’t support construction of a Stockton State University. Or any new CSU at this time.
That perpetuates the geographic inequity that sited state universities in or near every big California city but Stockton. Consequently, the 21st century train is leaving the station without us.
Friday was the last day of the legislative session, so that’s all she wrote for now. Neither bill moved forward.
An “E” for effort to Eggman, though. Her bond could have patched up the CSU system’s 23 aging campuses and left money for a Stockton newbie.
There’s no guarantee things would have worked out that way (her bill mentioned no specific cities) but the bill was Stockton’s best shot so far.
It’s tempting to single out Sen. Glazer. Senator, can’t you see we’re dying over here?
Orinda, by the way, is 78 percent white and has a median household income of $178,704, way above the national average, and almost four times that of Stockton’s.
You want to know why? A whopping 80.4 percent of adult Orindans boast a bachelor’s degree or higher. Only 17.4 percent of Stocktonians do.
Clearly, Glazer’s constituents enjoyed greater access to higher education than Stocktonians.
But before we troll Glazer, here’s what his spokesman, Steve Harmon, said when I called. “Sen. Glazer would consider a bond measure that has money for new campuses, if the need can be clearly demonstrated.”
So what now? Eggman and her co-authors will reintroduce the bill next year. Brown will be termed out; gubernatorial frontrunner Gavin Newsom supports a CSU, Stockton.
Eggman and others will push for creation of an independent office that determines objectively when a new CSU is needed, and where.
Brown has vetoed bills to create such an office. But such an outfit seems necessary. How else to eliminate the crazy politics that in 1975 bestowed a state university on the then-(forgive me) podunk city of Turlock a when Stockton was six times bigger?
To be fair to the Chancellor’s Office, it faces “enrollment growth, obligatory increases for employee compensation, health care and retirement costs and infrastructure” — $2 billion worth of deferred maintenance.
Understood, said Eggman’s chief of staff, David Stammerjohan.
“The CSUs want to ensure that if something is built that it gets the commitment and resources to sustain it and does not harm other parts of the system,” Stammerjohan said. “Susan agrees that’s what we need to do.”
Still, Stammerjohan said, “We think they need to be more active partners in making something happen, and not a lot of excuses.”
I don’t accept that supposedly liberal educators in a supposedly progressive state can continue to ignore the glaring inequities that exist between California’s prosperous coastal and struggling inland areas. Neither should you.
Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or email@example.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/fitzgeraldblog and on Twitter@Stocktonopolis.