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Simitian: Slashing higher-ed crippling California

Original post made on Sep 28, 2009

California's already faltering economy will be further damaged by severe cuts to to higher education, State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, warned warned about 120 persons Saturday at a "town hall" meeting in Palo Alto' City Council chambers.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, September 27, 2009, 10:48 PM

Comments (23)

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Posted by my take
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 28, 2009 at 7:20 am

Sen. Simitian is right. Our number one priority should be to restore and put more funds into higher education.

I didn't attend. Was high speed rail discussed. There is a project that will for generations drain hundreds of millions each year from the State's general fund, keeping much more needed programs from being adequately funded.

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Posted by myopic
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 28, 2009 at 9:23 am

Well, Simitian seems to think that the solution to everything is to grab the infinite money sitting out there with the people living in California.

"We are offering less to fewer students and charging them more,"

Did it occur to him that UC is far from efficient in achieving its goal of educating? The current state of the art in University education, including UC, does not leverage advances made in sociology, psychology, technology, economics, and yes, education, over the last 150 years.

"Simitian said the state's chronic budget crisis could be fixed by eliminating the two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature required to pass the state budget."

This will make it harder to compensate for the demonstrated universal willingness of our legislature to spend other people's money.

Instead of trying to be responsible with a realistic long term budget, just increase it every year by more and that will solve everything.

The state's chronic budget crisis could also be fixed by a culture of responsible spending and saving.

It is actually not true that the budget crises could be fixed by eliminating the 2/3 requirement for spending. Obviously, that would simply increase the spending. Any one managing a household budget knows that simply increasing the spending in order to meet everyone's requests does not manage a budget, and that it increases the likelihood of crises.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2009 at 9:40 am

The budget for higher education is definitely crippling and will continue to cripple California for a long time to come.

California's population is growing, but the number of higher level university places is growing smaller and the move to admit more out of state students for financial reasons is only making the problem worse. Our own students are having to leave the state as often the only option (this is particularly true in Palo Alto) as many, many able students are not getting accepted in our UCs.

It is a sorry state of affairs when a state cannot or will not educate its own residents but are willing to take in outsiders because they can pay more and as a consequence our own bright people have to go elsewhere to get educated. We are going to see more and more of an influx of well educated non-Americans and non-Californians becoming the business leaders in this state. The only born and bred Californians remaining will be those who are in the top 10% of their graduating high school class or those whose families are not wealthy enough to educate out of state so they will be stuck as high school graduates with no further education options.

Where this will lead us in 10 - 12 years remains to be seen.

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Posted by Rich
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2009 at 10:26 am

Draft Joe Simitian for governor in 2010!

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 28, 2009 at 10:37 am

From its statehood through the mid-nineteen sixties, California had the vision to liberally invest in its own people, and that investment paid off spectacularly. Then its Republicans realized that an educated thoughtful populace was very bad news for the GOP, and beginning with Ronald Reagan they set out to demolish the UC legacy. The Gobernador and the minority Repubs in the legislature have determined to finish the job before it's too late.

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Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 28, 2009 at 11:23 am

My daughter was one of the 8400 students who didn't get necessary classes at DeAnza last Monday. On Friday she moved to Colorado. Trying to go to a public college/university in California has become impossible. So, our children will move elsewhere and find better opportunities. We'll miss them---thank goodness for cell phones. That keeps the family together, but not the state economy.

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Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 28, 2009 at 11:28 am

Government is being invaded by the class of businessmen who think all problems can be solved by statistics. (They are running higher education too.) Is anything worth-while? Only the statistics will tell us. Maintaining communities,keeping our poplulation healthy, nurturing and educating the young, protecting our sources of food and water—if they don't measure up to some cost-benefit analysis, don't do them.

And whatever you do , remember, everyone is out to cheat and game the system. Actually it is the cost/benefit/profit analysis that spawns a lot of cheaters. There is always more than one way to work the numbers.

Instead of making numbers king, we could try to think about what is necessary, and then figure out how to pay for it. That requires a liberal education, not an MBA.

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Posted by Reality
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 28, 2009 at 11:46 am

Hmmm...almost 300,000 US citizens have left California in the last couple years, but our net population has grown...

Think about the implications people, and why we are going broke.

Then go through the various majors and classes available at our higher institutions that are so useful to the economic future of this State ( let alone this nation. All supported by our taxes. Ask yourself, would you give one month of your salary per year to help your child major in..say, Gender Studies?

Maybe a little trimming isn't a bad idea, in the land of realism

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm

"Maybe a little trimming isn't a bad idea, in the land of realism"

In the realm of "realism" 400 years ago, electricity was regarded as a trivial toy unworthy of serious study by learned men. Had men of realism indulged in a little trimming then, Silicon Valley would still be orchards today.

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Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Simitian confuses cause and effect. California is an obscenely overtaxed state, and now he wants us to eat our seed corn, via even higher taxes, to fund a university system that largely does not produce the competitive winners of tomorrow (engineering, science), but prides itself on producing entitled whiners, for which there are no jobs, other than "would like fries with your burger, sir?". This is one of the final death throes of the self-esteem movement.

It is too late to fix California. The financial collapse is happening in front of us right now. We did it to ourselves through confiscatory taxation (tax the rich), overregulation, social program demands, etc. Joe Simitian is only one of a long line of tax-and-spend, then control, politicians that play to the various demands of the "we want" crowd. The golden goose is dead, and there will be no more eggs....

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Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Marie is a registered user.

John - where do you get your information? UC Berkeley (and the other UC's) is one of the engines of the CA economy due to the students it educates, many of whom have gone on to lead the companies they join and found. To quote the National Research Council,

"UC Berkeley ranks first nationally in the number of graduate programs in the top 10 in their fields, according to the most recent National Research Council study. In the study, 35 of Berkeley's 36 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 in their fields in terms of faculty competence and achievement." They have 7 nobel prize winners. Go see the rest of the report:

Web Link

Top faculty attract the top students from all over the world, as well as California. UC Berkeley is especially strong in Science and Engineering. In the physical sciences, they are #1 in Chemistry Math and Statistics and 3rd in everything else including computer science. They are 2nd in civil and industrial engineering and 3rd and 4th in every other engineering major but biomedical, where they are 8th - without a medical school!!!

Per their website, the two most popular majors are Electrical Engineering/ Computer Science (1,394) and Molecular/Cell biology (1,135)/ It doesn't sound like whiners to me - it sounds like our future.

In terms of funding, again to quote the website,

"Philanthropic support: The state supplied 47% of the University's budget in 1991-92 and today its contribution comes to about 25%. Private support is increasingly critical to preserving Berkeley's excellence. Alumni, parents, and friends of the campus contributed $306.2 million in gifts and pledges in the 2008-09 fiscal year to support students, faculty, and research. There were 81,717 gifts and pledges from 56,706 donors.

Economic impact: UC Berkeley employs 24,700 people. As detailed in a recent economic-impact report, the campus's direct spending of more than $1 billion in the Bay Area generated an additional $464 million in spending and an additional 9,200 jobs for Bay Area residents."

To diminish this national treasure is nuts!!! To reduce the funding even further below 25% is catastrophic. It will affect most strongly those middle class families who don't qualify for financial aid and don't have the funds to pay the current $32,500 per year it takes to attend CAL. Simitian is so right.

P.S. - I am the Marie from Midtown who is a registered member of Town Square - do not confuse me with the unregistered Marie from Midtown.

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Posted by Rob
a resident of Woodside
on Sep 28, 2009 at 3:13 pm


Why do you think California is an overtaxed state? What about prop 13? Paying 1970's tax on a $2 million dollar home? Income and sales taxes aren't bad either. Most other California taxation is parallel to the federal system. I don't wish to be taxed further, like any sane person, but I don't own a home in California. Guess what legislation I would like to see? Hint: friday the 1xth.

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Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2009 at 4:06 pm


Ask the current crop of UC graduates how they are finding the job market in California. Hint: Determine how many of them are still living at home, and unemplyed or underemployed. Exclude the trust fund babies, who could care less.

What percentage of native Californians are engineering and science graduates of UC? Of the non-natives, how many are opening up companies in California? Even the natives are figuring it out that business can be more profitable in another state or another country.

Aside from the "hard" courses, largely unattended by by native Californians, the majority of UC students are getting a liberal arts education that is largely worthless in the job market. Even if such degrees lead to law degrees, there are already too many lawyers in CA. Why? Because there is an eroding business base. Coming full circle, what rational investor would open up a business in CA, when he/she can make much more money in another place?

The problem with California is that it can no longer generate the jobs that will absorb its UC graduates. It is not the other way around, and that is the "nuts" of it!

California has a structural problem, and it will take a crash to the bottom to correct it. Like a drunk, it will not take the proper steps until it hits bottom, in its own mind.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The income and property taxes are as nothing compared to the antagonism toward almost all productive efforts that have made everything we consume costlier, subject to the whim of legislators who see no limit to their power. No productive enterprise in the state has escaped the tinkering. The rented mule that is our economy has succumbed to an uncaring whip. A whip in Simitian's hand.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 29, 2009 at 12:17 pm

So everyone has their list of critical budget items that should not be cut. Time to be a little more diligent on cutting out many other expenses that bear little justification for their existence.

I understand the appropriately named 'California Integrated Waste Management Board' was finally closed down. It was (is?) a parking lot for termed-out pols on $120K annual salaries (that hard working Carol Migden was one). There must be a few hundred more boards like this that can be closed down as well that virtually nobody will object to.

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Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 29, 2009 at 7:30 pm

It appears that UCB in EE and CS is exporting IP. The departments are larger than the California/US market. Jobs for their graduates have been leaving the US for some time and much of science will start to follow at some point. If a US citizen or Permanent Resident can get a job in these fields, they won't get a career. Many BS grads take a look at their prospects and get an MS in marketing.

The way the work visa (H1-B) programs are set up they kill the job market so domestic grads can hardly compete even by reducing their price. In the visa programs employers get both the visas and Green Cards for the prospect. In the intervening years between the visa and the Green Card, the employee is effectively indentured. Even without that all those UCB grads are so much cheaper in, say, India than in California that California is a loser.

It's safe to say that if currencies aren't free traded nothing else is. China set its currency low and pegged it to the dollar so we can work as hard and efficiently as we want but can't win. Their strategy was simple. Possibly the only way forward for us in tech is to cut salaries by, say, half with the CPI where it is. The transfer of wealth and tech out of the US is over Globalism and historic in scope. That needs to be part of discussions like this. California does not exist by itself and now has to take its expectations down a peg.

Businesses in California apparently are still forming, it's just that it's so expensive here many incorporate in other states.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2009 at 11:26 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Shut down CARB with thanks for a job well done and done. Open up oil leases in all California waters with revenue going to education.

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Posted by Reality
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 30, 2009 at 11:31 am

Maguro wrote "The way the work visa (H1-B) programs are set up they kill the job market so domestic grads can hardly compete even by reducing their price."

Hard to believe such a statement when H1-B visas are filled within 24 hours of the new year's beginning. That leaves 364 days of businesses looking for qualified employees and unable to fill the positions. Even in this market, an engineer/scientist can find work. Maybe not in the exact location s/he wishes, like Carmel, but since when is it a promise that one can find work wherever one wishes in a nation, let alone a State?

Sorry, your post doesn't fly.

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Posted by Alternative Reality
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Reality said
"Hard to believe such a statement when H1-B visas are filled within 24 hours of the new year's beginning."

This year the H1-B quota(65,000) has not been hit yet.

for example, see:

Web Link

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Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 30, 2009 at 2:40 pm

"Hard to believe such a statement when H1-B visas are filled within 24 hours of the new year's beginning. That leaves 364 days of businesses looking for qualified employees and unable to fill the positions."

Companies file for the visa slots. It's not that they file for individuals at that point. There have been past years when the number of visas was in the ballpark of the number of new jobs created. That there were ever substantial shortages has never been shown and is not indicated by wage rates.

It's a privilege to brain-drain the world and the more such people the better, but the number of visas is so large that most of the people are not much better than average. H1-B's are divided into categories EB-1, 2, and 3. EB-1 is a star in the field and gets a Green Card very quickly. EB-2 takes a bit longer. EB-3 is - what, up to 8-10 years? The availability of such numbers of visas has enabled companies to dump or not hire workers in their 40's also.

Job holders here are frequently required to train their new replacement to get severance. Remember the BA programmer who was laid off that way and committed suicide in the BA Concord parking lot? People who have to train their replacements are not being canned because they don't know what they're doing. My contention that US citizens and GC holders can't compete by lowering their price is correct. Other countries have not turned over skilled immigration to corporations to game. A point system, like Canada, is an alternative. The way the current program is done is a blatant product of pay-to-play Washington. Just having the individuals apply for visas at a US Consulate with, say, 18 months to get a job and then applying themselves for GC's would restore a normal job market.

Lately companies are not filing for the visas available, and the US is becoming relatively less attractive as a destination. A problem is that Americans are paid too much and our standard of living is partly on the national bar tab which is not sustainable. So offshoring jobs is across the board. If your work comes to you and leaves on a wire you may well be outsourced. Software engineers are quite vulnerable especially with diminishing manufacturing and offshored IT, civil engineers much less so.

The more visas the companies get, the more domestic students will bail, the more they bail the more visas will be asked for in a spiral. The "Rise of the Rest" is to be expected and is not the problem. That just means we have to work harder and smarter in the more complicated world. We can do that. The present visa program, however, is an especially pathological example of Washington pay-to-play.

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Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2009 at 3:46 pm

If the UC system produces enough native-born scientists and enginers, why are H1-B visa even necessary? I think we all know the answer to that question. Native born Californians are either not capable or willing to study hard enough, and apply themselves, to compete with foreign competition. It is much cheaper to hire foreign workers to do the same jobs, especially when the jobs are outsourced.

California is just not a business-friendly place. The days of high-paying jobs for college graduates, in this state, are over. The corporations are outsourcing in an attempt to stay here with a severely reduced workforce, largely because the business owners want to drive or bicycle to work in California. If the business owners decide that such pleasures are no longer worth it, they will move their businesses to Oregon or Nevada or China.

Simitian is crippling California and the UC system, by not demanding lower taxes and regulations in California. He is living in the past.

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Posted by Reality
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 1, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Web Link

Assuming the above site is correct, it is interesting that universities and government jobs have no limit on H1B visas they can hire...hmm...

"The number of H-1B visas issued per year is limited to 65,000 with an additional 20,000 for those with U.S. graduate degrees and there is no limit for universities and non-profit and government research laboratories." limit for government ( tax funded) and university (mostly tax funded) jobs for non-citizens?

On the one hand, I have no problem with that if the jobs are simply unable to be filled by Americans on my tax dollar or if the best person really is a non-citizen for the job, but on the other hand, I wonder how many of the jobs are actually able to be filled by Americans? Especially in GOVERNMENT jobs and TAX-Funded University jobs?

To Alternative Reality
Per your site

"The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been receiving several times the number of the allocated quota. However, this year, the USCIS is struggling to fill up the 65,000 H-1B visas as mandated by the US Congress.

This is mainly attributed to the strict approval policy adopted by the USCIS this year and the ongoing economic recession, which has resulted in a 26-year high unemployment rate of 9." ( Actually, we are at 9.7%, with yet another 500,000+ jobs lost in September).

So, we have the highest unemployment rate since Carter ( who hit 11%), and your point is what? I am, personally, confused by the statement "as mandated by Congress"..does this mean we MUST employ 65,000 new non-citizens every year, or does this mean that the new mandates by Congress make it harder to fill the H1Bs? I remember a big deal being made about no tax-dollars going to employ people from other that why there are fewer approvals of H1Bs? So much tax money given to private businesses that employ people, that there are fewer companies that can hire foreign nationals?

A little off topic, but if anyone knows, it would be interesting. If the reason really is because no company that took tax-money to survive can hire foreign nationals, then I am all for denying H1Bs and hiring Americans instead.

Which begs the question: Where are these jobs that the companies are looking for H1Bs? If there are 20,000 jobs open right now, and we just lost another 500,000 jobs in September to bring us up to however many millions of unemployed there are now in the USA, surely there are 20,000 qualified Americans amongst that unemployed group for whatever jobs these are? And if there aren't, we are in a world of hurt bigger than the current economic mess, and it would behoove us to educate enough Americans in THOSE JOBS that companies need..immediately! Something tells me they aren't liberal arts graduates that are sorely needed...

Outta time to satisfy my curiosity and research this right now..anyone know enough to connect some dots for us?

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Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2009 at 6:31 am

The following is a Web site with more links on the subject of H1-B's from Norm Matloff, a prof in the CS Dept at UC Davis who has been a statistics prof. I believe that he has been a strong advocate for some of his best foreign students and their staying here. He also speaks fluent Cantonese which is hard for someone from here to learn. So he is cosmopolitan as well. It would be hard or impossible for someone in the business world to publish such a page. He is not some university activist on ideological auto pilot either; not at all. I believe this to be a good source which is hard to find:

Web Link

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