[OPE] The Low State of Higher Education: A California Tragedy

From: michael perelman <michael@ecst.csuchico.edu>
Date: Sun Nov 08 2009 - 20:47:11 EST

While higher education in California was reeling from budget cuts, the
San Francisco Chronicle reported, "California State University
Chancellor Charles Reed has retained high-priced lobbyists without
competitive bidding, even though CSU has a Sacramento office where it
runs a $1.1 million-a-year, in-house lobbying unit whose state employees
monitor CSU-related bills and follow state budget hearings."

"In the last decade, the university system has paid more than $2 million
in public funds to two Sacramento lobbying firms -- Capitol Advocacy
LLC, and Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates -- to influence the policies
and budget decisions of the governor and state lawmakers."

Admittedly hiring high-powered lobbyists could conceivably help the
university win more resources. Instead, "CSU's lobbyists have been paid
to defeat bills designed to shed more light on CSU executive salaries
and perks as well as public records. In 2006, The Chronicle reported
that millions of dollars in extra compensation was quietly handed out to
campus presidents and other top executives as they left their posts."

"The university has paid the outside lobbyists not only to obtain
funding for programs such as student financial aid and an Education
Doctorate degree, state records show, but also to monitor nearly a dozen
bills that had little or no direct connection to the university,
including legislation on affordable housing for Iraq veterans, money
laundering, terrorism, sex offenders and sacred Indian grounds."

[The bill that really engaged the administration was one to require
disclosure of spending in state-supported higher education, including
executive salaries. A number of scandals in the system -- not just high
salaries offended the legislature. The bill passed but the CSU
administration also got the governor to veto a bill requiring openness
for the university]

"Trent Hager, chief of staff for Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La
Canada Flintridge (Los Angeles County), said CSU paid the two lobbying
firms in 2007 to derail his boss' bill aimed at full disclosure of CSU
salaries."They got it sidetracked and killed," he said."

more at:


Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA
530 898 5321
fax 530 898 5901
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Received on Sun Nov 8 20:51:12 2009

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