One of the great things about living in Washington is that we have license to be incredibly snotty about all things California. Their earthquakes are worse than ours, their vapid Hollywood culture makes Seattle look positively European, everything is more expensive there, and we all know that everyone there secretly wants to move here.
And no matter how bad our state budget gets, theirs is always worse.
So the open letter that University of California President Mark Yudof sent to all Californians in January was enough to knock us right on our smug flannel Starbucks asses. “This is a sad day for California,” President Yudof wrote. “In the budget proposed by Gov. Brown, the collective tuition payments made by University of California students for the first time in history would exceed what the state contributes to the system's general fund.”
Here in Washington, we crossed that line two years ago. Under Governor Gregoire’s proposed budget, student tuition would account for 70% of our budgets and state support would drop to 30%. And under the budgets that the state House of Representatives and Senate will be proposing soon, it will be even worse.
Under Governor Brown’s proposed budget, state funding for universities would fall to 1998 levels. Here in Washington, we are already at 1991 funding levels. Governor Brown’s proposed budget would reduce UC per student state funding to $7210. Governor Gregoire’s proposed budget would reduce per student state funding at Western Washington University to $2900.
So think twice the next time you want to make fun of California. As bad as things are there, they are still light years ahead of us in understanding the social and economic value of public universities.