Posts tagged ‘Higher Education’

San Jose Makes Up Fhony Budget Too Steal From City Pensions


San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, is pushing a ballot measure that would cut city employee pensions and is basing his case on a pension liability number that was made up, he was told not to use, and overstates the real liability by nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Reed based his claims of a crisis on a figure of a $650 million city contribution to pension costs for the next five years on a comment from Russell Crosby, director of retirement services for the city of San Jose. Crosby has since said that he made the number up off the top of his head and that he told Reed not to use the number. The number overestimates the actual costs by more than $200 million. The San Jose Police Officers’ Association, San Jose Firefighters Local 230, and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21 have since filed an ethics complaint against Reed and others for misleading the public.

Affected San Jose workers and citizens have already given up pay and benefits that will save the city more than $340 million over the next four years. They have already proposed a solution that would save the city nearly half a billion dollars more. Reed and the city council are ignoring the proposed solution and Reed has refused to back down from his support for the $650 million lie. Instead they are focused on a ballot initiative that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees say is unconstitutional. Reed and the council can withdraw the initiative at their March 6 meeting.

Those who oppose Reed’s scheme can take action.

Tags: AFSCME, American Federation of State County
and Municipal Employees, Chuck Reed, Labor, pensions, San Jose

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$422,320 for a College Degree? With Tuition Skyrocketing, It is Time to Rethink Higher Education


That’s what The Daily, News Corp. and Apple’s daily news outlet for the iPad, calculated a college education could cost members of the class of 2034—children born this year, for the most part—if they attend one of the nation’s priciest schools. But even an average public university will cost $81,000 for four years if tuition hikes continue at current rates—which are increasing much faster than inflation. As tuition continues to go up, and even the president calls for solutions, some are looking at radical possibilities for keeping tuition down—or even eliminating it.

The Daily found that tuition has been increasing even faster at public schools than private—4.5 percent a year for public universities and only 3.5 percent for private. According to Jane Wellman of the Delta Project, which studies the cost of higher education, public schools have been relying on tuition rather than endowments to make up for state education budget cuts..

That last statement shouldn’t be surprising—with the Age of Austerity upon us, cuts have been coming fast and hard to state university budgets. Last year, the University of California system saw a $500 million reduction in the support it gets from Sacramento, a 16.4 percent drop.

With support for public universities dwindling in the ongoing economic slump, the cost of college is falling on the shoulders of families and on the students themselves, who are increasingly forced to mortgage their future on student loans that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Family incomes certainly haven’t kept up with the rise in college costs—The Daily notes that family incomes, adjusted for inflation have only grown by 1 percent since 1987, and the median family wage is down from 2009. Poverty is at an 18-year high. And while Rick Santorum might be attempting to burnish his working-class credentials telling audiences that President Obama is a “snob” for saying that he wants everyone to go to college, Catherine Rampell at the New York Times notes that college graduates’ incomes are actually going up in comparison to those of high school grads.

A professor that Rampell interviewed, Philip Babcock from the University of California at Santa Barbara, noted that perhaps it’s less that incomes are going up for people with degrees and more that incomes are stagnating or dropping for those without them. Rampell wrote, “Additionally, some public policies that helped support the earnings of lower-skilled workers have become less generous over time. The minimum wage, for example, has not kept pace with inflation.”

The decline of unions, the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs that used to provide a solid middle-class income and benefits, and conservative politicians refusing to maintain the minimum wage against inflation have all contributed to a situation where a college education is seen, despite Santorum’s posturing, as the best way for young people to guarantee a good future. Yet if the price of a college education continues to rise above and beyond what working families can afford, we end up with two results: one, that the children of the already-wealthy get the benefits of advanced degrees without debt (how many families can afford to spend $20,000 a year putting a kid through school without taking out loans?) and two, that big banks and student lenders will continue to reap the rewards, raking in interest as they dish out loans to “the 99%.”

An Alternative Plan?

Last month, President Obama and education secretary Arne Duncan met with a group of college presidents (mostly from public universities) and others, including the Delta Project’s Jane Wellman, to discuss ways of keeping college tuition down and improving graduation rates.

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