Tuesday Must Read: Brown Wants to ‘Privatize’ Higher Ed, Close State Parks, and Shred Social Safety Net



Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Jerry Brown arguably wouldn’t be governor if it hadn’t been for redevelopment funds. Indeed, he used Oakland’s redevelopment money during his time as mayor to rehab his political career. His much-touted 10K plan would not have been possible without redevelopment dollars, and so his mayoral tenure would have ended without any real successes and no record to run on for governor. But now that he’s used redevelopment funds to get to Sacramento, Brown wants to strip all other mayors in the state of the chance to revitalize their cities in the future — and their careers — too, so that he can use the money instead for the state budget. Yesterday, the new governor proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies completely as part of his budget plan, the Chron and Mercury News report. The proposal would devastate urban revitalization efforts around California — including Oakland.

2. Brown also is proposing to dramatically cut funding for higher education in a move that critics say will “privatize” the UC system, the Chron reports. Brown's proposed 2011-12 budget would give UC — for the first time — less money from the state than it gets from student tuition: $2.6 billion versus $2.8 billion. In short, California’s public premiere public university system, once the envy of the nation, will now depend more on private funds to educate students. Brown’s proposal would slash $500 million each from the UC and CSU systems, and $400 million from community colleges.

3. The governor’s proposal also would devastate the state’s social safety net for the poor, and it would force the closure of more state parks, the Chron and Mercury News report. The plan would slash $11 million this year from California’s park system, and $22 million next year. Brown has asked the state parks director to submit a list of parks to close in February.

4. The one bright spot of Brown’s plan is that it spares K-12 education and cash-strapped transportation agencies from budget cuts, the Chron and Merc report. However, that could change if voters reject Brown’s proposal to extend tax hikes that are scheduled to expire this year. Brown also may have difficulty getting his tax plan on the ballot because Republican legislators oppose it.

5. Brown’s plan also is friendly to state employee unions. It only asks for 10 percent compensation cuts, and it does not require that they contribute more to their pension plans, the Chron notes.

6. And finally, in non-Jerry Brown news, Verizon plans to announce today that it will begin selling the iPhone, providing a much-needed outlet for smartphone lovers who hate AT&T, the Chron and Mercury News report.