The California Democratic Party (CDP) has included in their platform and provided a plan to make college tuition-free across the state in an attempt to make higher education more accessible.
In a press release, it was announced that “the California Democratic Party passed its 2018 platform … that would make California first-in-the-nation to support fully tuition-free public colleges for all … by eliminating all tuition and fees at the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges for all students. The platform would address the national student debt crisis by providing cost-of-living financial aid while students are in college.”
This announcement comes after a finalized budget for the 2018-2019 year from Governor Brown failed to include a four percent increase in funding to the UC and CSU systems. Following the budget, the UC Regents pushed to vote to raise tuition for students, a move many saw as an increasing dependency on students to fill the funding gap.
On their website, CDP noted this shift in funding, stating that “Between 2001 and 2016, $57 billion (in real dollars) has been withheld from California’s public higher education sector. By 2016, the state was spending 39 percent less per university student than fifteen years before.”
To amend this growing issue, the party has suggested a $48 Fix, the name of their paper policy: “The platforms refers to progressive taxation … The $48 Fix is a progressive income tax costing just $48 or less a year for half of the taxpaying population; this would eliminate all tuition and fees at public colleges in California.”
CDP claims that implementing just an additional $48 income tax on median households would allow for the funding of their plan.
In the language of their full policy, CDP outlines their belief in how privatization has allowed for the decline in public higher education. A steady decrease in state funding has lead to increasing pressure on public colleges to find alternative sources to keep up expansion and services. CDP has written that, “The 1960 Master Plan treated education as a public good, provided at low-cost or no-cost to all California students, yielding a wider social and economic benefit. But since 2000, higher education has been treated as a commodity to be sold to consumers for their private gain.”
“Privatization — treating higher education as a commodity that students and their families buy rather than as a public good provided to everyone who would benefit from higher education — has led to more student debt and less access.”
CDP claims that adopting their new plan would get rid of all new student debt and that voters support the betterment of public higher education in the state, a justification for providing colleges the same financial support K-12 schooling has received.
The policy asserts that had California not strayed from the Master Plan of 1960, the state would not be in the predicament that it is currently in. The Master Plan, implemented by Governor Pat Brown, lead the current system which includes, the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges and provided for low-cost education for California students.
Also outlined is the potential downfalls that come from the privatization of education, including the state’s inability “to produce enough college-educated citizens to support its economic future.”
Ultimately, the CDP argues through their policy that better funding for higher education is not only possible, but necessary for the future of California.
In their press release, Daraka Larimore-Hall, the Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party is quoted having said, “100 years ago progressives fought for and won universal K-12 education and the middle class prospered as a result. It is clear 12th grade no longer cuts it. We must expand free education to include public colleges so that everyone can have an opportunity at a successful middle class life.”