Today, the New York Times published an article detailing how “Schwarzenegger Seeks Shift [In State Budget Funding] From Prisons to Schools“. The catchy slogan, “Universities over prisons.” Schwarzenegger’s proposal seeks to shift the allocated percentage of the state budget in education from the current 7.5% to “no less than 10%”. Their economic strategy is dependent upon the budget cuts to state prisons, thus adjusting its annual portion from 11% to “no more than 7%”.
Among our friends the question regarding this article has been, “What does it all mean?” That is perhaps the best question, since as it stands the proposal means nothing. The increase of the percentage of the state budget alloted to education does not mean, for example, that fees will be reduced, nor that teachers and workers whose jobs have been cut will ever come back to see a campus in California. The proposal does not even mention where in the university the money is going to go. Will it go to construction? Will it serve to speed up the current bond buying practice the UC system has praised as a money making venture? We all know what happened to the bank bailout money that was supposed to aid consumers bring the national economy “back into swing!” As it stands, we cannot expect a cent out of this increase, (especially since it is something that Mark Yudof has hailed as “a bold and visionary plan that represents a fundamental restoration of the values and priorities that have made California great”. Believe us, he’s licking his fat cat chops; he has no values, his only priority is stuffing his pockets and those of his loyal puppets, and he could care less about the “great” state of California.
Furthermore, the article states that the effect of the proposal will hinge upon the passing of legislation that will “reduce the parole burdens from ‘downward pressure on prison staff salaries’ and from the reduction of inmate medical costs”…
Fucking great! Not only will the new proposal piss off current repressive prison staff, it will make it even harder for the prisoners to recuperate after they get the shit beaten out of them because the master can’t afford the NFL Sunday package anymore. Lance Corcoran, spokesman for the [Evil] California Correctional Peace Officers Association, stated, “If this is the direction the [State] administration chooses to go in, there will certainly be consequences.” We know what’s coming, since just last month the same [E]CCPOA managed to avert state sanctioned furloughs when a judge threw out the case, implying that it was unwise to endanger the security and safety of the State.
Unfortunately, this violent and repressive backlash will also reach university campuses and it will continue to foster animosity simply through rhetoric even though in the end it may only accomplish making the administration a more powerful entity. Campus police will stop thinking of students as the brats they beat up when they get rowdy and, instead, regard them as an economic competitor, a rival for survival. For this reason alone, we demand that police be immediately withdrawn from the public space of the university, since it will place protesters at increased risk of injury.
To close, we would like to state that this plan is neither “bold” nor “visionary”, but grossly misleading and a threat to the public safety of students and prison inmates everywhere. If California would like to save some of the money used to support the state prison system, they could start by repealing the three strikes law.
Unless the increase in the California Budget allocation to “higher public education” goes to the benefit of the student, the increase means nothing. Unless the privatization of the university stops, this money will continue to be funneled away into capitalist projects. Unless there is budget transparency, how will anyone know anything about this money?
Don’t let us be misunderstood; because we object to the inconclusive nature of the deal, it does not mean we side with the [E]CCPOA’s spinning, scratching, and crossfading of this whole mess into a legislative assault on public safety. We reject that rhetoric. However, at the same time, we don’t agree that the legislation should promote making the prison environment an even unhealthier place. Instead, we would like to see legislation abolish prisons altogether, especially since they have become a capitalist enterprise for cheap labor and promote discrimination and racism.
We fear that there will be many who will take the bait and the catchy slogan and blindly grant the State the authority to do as they please. If this increase is going to have a positive effect for the student, the student must take control of the university.