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Endowment for Higher Education in State Urged

October 20, 2004|Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writer

State Treasurer Phil Angelides on Tuesday urged creation of a $5-billion endowment for California higher education through the development and possible sale of state-owned properties, including urban land and unused warehouses.

With public funding for the state's colleges and universities slipping even as their enrollments grow, Angelides said his proposal could ultimately provide an extra $300 million annually for scholarships, counseling and academic preparation efforts. He said the money should supplement, not replace, existing state funding.

"Today, the hurdles for young people who want to go to college in California are getting higher and higher at a time when we need more to enroll in college in order to compete in the global economy," Angelides said at a Sacramento news conference.

Several education advocates, including former state Secretary for Education Gary K. Hart, lauded the proposal as an innovative effort. Others said the idea would probably face hurdles in the Legislature and elsewhere.

"Certainly, state real estate could be managed better and additional revenue could be generated," said Steve Boilard, director of the higher education unit of the legislative analyst's office. "But how this gets there is problematic."

A spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said his staff had not had a chance to study the proposal. But she said that in May the governor ordered a review of the state's real estate holdings, with an eye toward the possible sale of unused properties.

The treasurer's proposal would transfer properties he described as poorly managed and under-used to a public trust, which would then manage or sell them. The revenues, after a start-up period of two to four years, would fund the higher-education endowment.

Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education in San Jose, said the proposal would face obstacles.

He added, however, "It's a great example of the kind of fresh thinking that we really need on the issue of funding higher education."

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