San Francisco – Two years ago I moved to California to continue my education as an adult because it was the most affordable place in the country to get a degree.
City College students currently pay $26/credit hour. One of Governor Jerry Browns' ideas to help solve the California budget dilemma is a proposed $10/credit hour increase to the current rate. This would be an almost 45 percent increase in cost, but when you compare that rate to ANY other school in the entire country the cost is between 50 to 75 percent less.
Although California's budget problems are decades old, partly due to a voter-approved freeze in property tax rates, solidified and entrenched (and mostly white) interests in commerce and industry still rule the day. Many of these voters, some of whom are parents of current City College students, were short-sighted in their desire for what they saw as fair taxation.
Californians’ complacence to what in other states is considered fiscally illogical, has sealed their budgetary coffins. The reason California is in such a dire economic mess is because large numbers of loyal, aging, white voters deemed it unfair to pay for property taxes, public services, and higher education at rates comparable to other states (we're not talking about primary or secondary schools – that’s a separate topic), while at the same time demanding the same level of governance.
For instance, in suburban New York during the 1980’s a 3-bedroom ranch home sitting on 1/2 acre 20 minutes outside the city, could carry assessed property/school taxes totaling around $3,000 to $5,000 annually. Last week, I overheard a female colleague in San Francisco complaining about the fact that the single-family home she owns in gorgeous Lower Nob Hill, costs her about $3,900 a year in property/school taxes.
What is all the whining about? How is this so-called unfair increase actually unfair? The opponents of this increase merely note that it's a 30% increase, not the fact that it's still the least expensive, and highest quality education available today.
A socially vibrant city like San Francisco, with its temperate weather, gentle folk, and world-class transit system is the envy of many municipalities, yet there are those who seem intent on having their water turned to wine without having to pay any extra.
Let's all pay the fair share that we should. City College students should wake up and smell the stench of an entrenched, aging voter pool who decades ago set California on an unsustainable path of fiscal unbalance and unaccountability.
$36/credit hour is a clearance priced education if you ask this student.