The first measure facing the state's voters on the Nov. 8 ballot is Proposition 78, and their decision will crucially affect the future of California public higher education, generally rated as the foremost system of its kind in the world.
Proposition 78, the Public Higher Education Capital Facilities Bond Act, authorizes the state to issue $600 million in general obligation bonds over two years for the funding of new buildings, upgrading of obsolete and unsafe structures, expansion of classrooms, libraries and laboratories, equipment for scientific research and vocational training, and to facilitate access for handicapped persons.
These projects are vital if the campuses of the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges are to start catching up with booming enrollments and heavily backlogged construction. Currently, more than 1.6 million students attend California's 135 public universities and colleges, including 23 campuses in the Los Angels area. By the year 2000, an additional 464,000 students are expected, for a total enrollment topping 2 million.
Figures alone, however, do not tell the whole story. The quality of life of all Californians benefits from a highly educated work force and from important university breakthroughs in medicine, electronics, agriculture, aerospace, bioengineering, and numerous other fields.
For example, half of the new jobs created in America between 1983 and 1986 went to people with at least three years of college education. The skilled graduates of the state's public universities and colleges help attract and expand the businesses and industries that have made California one of the largest economic powers in the world.
CHARLES E. YOUNG