Editorial: Petitions for a Gov. Student Fee Buyout Misplaced

    This time last year, legislators and college lobbyists and officials celebrated Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s student fee buyout plan with appropriate Hollywood-like excess. His move to buy out $75 million worth of increases in college student fees incited a flurry of praises — ‘historic,’ ‘relieving’ and ‘progressive’ made up a small selection of the public bravado on last year’s move.

    A year later, the pendulum swings, and the descriptors are noticeably different. The governor’s current budget contains no safety net, spurring UC Student Association President Bill Shiebler to tell the Daily Bruin, ‘Students are feeling angry, frustrated and betrayed.’

    But this is no highway robbery. Schwarzenegger promised no buyouts beyond his election year and the state’s nonpartisan analyst’s office publicly fretted that the governor’s one-time save would upset a delicate, gradual and predictable system of fee increases. Even this board scolded the plan’s shortsightedness.

    So as student groups begin their host of Sacramento-bound petitions to advocate another buyout, they should realize that context does not favor them. Schwarzenegger will be battling a billion-dollar deficit while trying to push other cost-heavy agendas, including his expansive health care plan.

    Students would be smart to lobby for other efforts, including the revival of the empty line item in this year’s budget for academic preparation programs, an outreach tool that serves disadvantaged and underrepresented students. There are worthier causes, most of which serve more students than another one-time buyout — and that deserves attention.

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