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'Handcuffed Higher Education' and State Limits on Spending

December 10, 1988

Thank you for your editorial "Handcuffed Higher Education" (Nov. 23). I was gratified that you gave recognition to the reputation for quality that my university has built and was pleased that you called attention to eliminating the Gann limit on expenditures for higher education if the state is to continue to honor its commitment to provide the opportunity for all qualified students to complete a university education.

The gradual starvation of higher education that began two decades ago and accelerated with the passage of Proposition 13 has reached a point where the lack of funding may soon force a change in the state's longstanding and recently reaffirmed policy on higher education. Only last year was the Gann limit on expenditures reached, resulting in a return of money already collected in taxes.

This year revenue deficiencies forced severe cuts in the operating budgets of all departments on my campus. In my particular department this meant a freeze on hiring a replacement for a secretary who was exclusively responsible for preparing academic materials for use in classroom instruction.

Skillful budgetary juggling by my dean and associate dean permitted us to hire a part-time, temporary replacement for most of the fall quarter, but the loss in secretarial services placed an increased burden on all faculty and staff in my department and affected academic decisions about the number and kind of examinations and other assignments. Pitiful allotments for faculty recruitment make it impossible for faculty committees to interview potential, tenure-track candidates at major professional meetings, and faculty participation at such meetings is underfunded, if at all.

The recent passage of Proposition 98 may help forestall the crisis in funding for K-14 education in California, but will in fact exacerbate the fiscal difficulties of the California State University and the University of California.

PROF. MAX E. RIEDLSPERGER

Chairman, Department of History

Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo

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