Amid the media swirl over Michael Jackson (see below), California continues to lumber toward its own tragedy — the state budget mess.
But the more we look into the budget and its impacts on our region, the more we see opportunities lost and entrepreneurial efforts cast aside.
Take, for example, the situation at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where state employees are headed for furloughs and a $30-million-plus shortfall. Earlier this year students voted overwhelmingly to impose higher fees on themselves so that the cuts could be avoided.
But administrators at the California State University Presidents in Long Beach so far have nixed the plan. They argue that the campus should not have access to funds that aren’t available to other universities in the system.
This command-and-control mentality is precisely the sort of problem that prevails across California’s bureaucracies, and it really must come to an end. We think it would be just fine, for example, if the popular — and profitable — graduate business and management programs at California State University, Channel Islands, were able to operate autonomously and grow at their own pace. Yes, even if it meant defying the freeze that affects other departments.
While our colleagues in the media argue that California’s problems can be solved with a redo of Proposition 13 or a revamp of the two-thirds budget vote, we think it’s the entire culture of California’s bureaucracy that must change.
The bureaucrats and the legislature must focus on what creates innovation, opportunity and feeds California’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Providing Cal Poly with a better way to pay for the education of engineers, scientists and liberal arts graduates is precisely what the state needs at this time. Unshackling the only public master’s of business administration program in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties is precisely what the region needs to encourage entrepreneurship and job growth.
We know the cuts are coming and they are going to be deep. We know that some taxes will have to rise.
Only when our state moves off the gridlock — too much coddling of big government programs on the left, too much aversion to investment in the future of our communities on the right — can we begin to grow again.