Statement of Governor Ronald Reagan on Tuition

 

January 17, 1967

 

In all the sound and fury of the budget discussion of recent days, this administration has been portrayed as an opponent of educational ideas engaged in total warfare against the academic community – sole defender of cultural and intellectual progress.  I think it’s time to put the entire picture in focus and reestablish a sensible and realistic perspective.

 

Students and parents of student have been unnecessarily disturbed and even frightened by the University’s precipitate and unwarranted freeze on applications.  This action, I might add, was taken by the University without consulting the Board of Regents.  I have called this action unwarranted and I believe it is completely so.

 

As plainly as we can we have told the citizens of this state the nature and size of our financial problem.  We are trying through economies of roughly 10 percent to effect savings somewhat in excess of $200 million, and we’ll strive for more.  But even so a part of the deficit will have to be made up from new revenues.  At the same time we must provide a margin for a new, broader-based tax to relieve the overburdened property taxpayer, principally the home owner.

 

Every segment of government must share in the economies first, as every citizen must share in the increased taxes.  Education and welfare total 80 percent or more of the general fund spending.  There is no way we could exempt them from the belt tightening that is necessary.  If we did, we’d have to eliminate all other government services to arrive at any meaningful reduction.

 

So there is the problem … we just simply have a shortage of dollars.  It is hard to believe there is no leeway for cost cutting in the University program.  Right at the moment I’m tempted to suggest a cut in the University’s approximately $700,000-a-year public relations budget since it would seem a good share of it is being spent publicizing me.

 

But let me make it plain; I don’t pretend the economies will be easy for any of us.  Some will – we will find unneeded fat that can be whittled away without scratching a single muscle [fibre], but like any family faced with this problem, we will all have to give up some things we would like.  This is a temporary thing.  If professors take on an added work load, this isn’t a permanent change in policy.  I share their hopes for continued progress in educational standards and achievement, but I ask them now to share in the burden with the rest of us until we can put our house in order.

 

This brings me to the furor over our suggestion that among the several possibilities for minimizing the effect of budget costs is tuition.

 

This suggestion resulted in the almost hysterical charge that this would deny educational opportunities to those of the most moderate means.  This is obviously untrue for two reasons:

 

 - First, we made it plain that tuition must be accompanied by adequate loans to be paid back after graduation and that scholarships should be available to provide that no deserving students be denied educations due to lack of funds.

 

More important is the false impression given that enrollment in the University is now in some way based on the ability to pay.  This is not true.  Eligibility for theUniversity actually is limited to those in the top 12 percent scholastically.

 

On this principle 88 percent of the high school students cannot go to the University regardless of their finances or their desires.

 

Let me read from the text of a letter sent to one of our newpapers by three economics professors at UCLA:

 

“At present, every student, regardless of whether he or his parents are rich or poor, is given a subsidized scholarship of about $2000 a year (actually, our figures show it is about $3000).  The wealthy benefit from this bonanza at the expense of the poor.  Seventy-two percent of the 18-year-olds from the families with income over $14,000 are in colleges but only 12 percent from families with less than $2000 annual income.  Yet, the taxes for financing the bonanza bear more heavily on the poor than on the rich.”

 

Incidentally, the full text of that letter also is attached.

 

Now, let me summarize.

 

The problem, briefly, is finances.  We face a major deficit and we must find a way to eliminate it.

 

The answer lies with all of us.  There are no exceptions.

 

I believe the education sector of our government can and must help in this.  Indeed, it has a responsibility to help.

 

As far as we are concerned we do not intend to continue carrying on this discussion as some sort of a contest in the press.

 

We now look forward to meeting with the Regents, the Trustees and the administrators in an atmosphere of mutual respect, good will, and understanding to find the best answer for all the people of California.