Opinion: Once upon a time in California, you could work your way up with a nearly free college education

UC Berkeley
Students on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. (David Butow/For the Times)
(David Butow/For the Times)

To the editor: George Skelton’s column reminded me that I was very fortunate to graduate high school in Kingsburg, Calif., in 1960. (“Providing free college tuition in California is a good idea — but taxing millionaires to do it is a bad one,” March 23)

My higher education was provided by the California Master Plan for Higher Education and allowed me to attend, tuition free, Reedley College and, eventually, Fresno State University, where the “tuition” in 1963 was less than $60 a term (student association fees). Attending UC Berkeley did not cost much more, and plenty of classes were available at both campuses.

I eventually attended Army Officer Candidate School and was commissioned an officer in 1966. Eventually, I earned a master’s degree at Boston University courtesy of the GI Bill.

My family could not afford college, and I am truly blessed that the state of California offered me a quality education. I feel sorry for today’s students who are mortgaging their futures with onerous student loans — and I agree with Skelton that soaking the wealthy taxpayers is not a viable long-term solution.


Gary Washburn, Chatsworth


To the editor: Imposing higher taxes on California’s top 1% of income earners increases revenue uncertainty and could chase those people into neighboring states.

California needs to deal with education and infrastructure funding once and for all. The best way would be to amend Proposition 13 to apply to a single owner-occupied residence, not multiple mansions or commercial properties.


Those who voted for Proposition 13 in 1978 believed it was unfair to force people out of their homes because rapidly increasing property values were causing them to be unable to pay their taxes. Let’s return to that idea.

A salutary side effect of applying Proposition 13 to a primary residence would be an increase in California’s housing inventory, as people no longer reaping this benefit on multiple homes might put them on the market, helping to alleviate our chronic housing shortage.

Gordon Louttit, Manhattan Beach


To the editor: Does anyone else see the irony in this headline referring to so-called free tuition? To Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), who is sponsoring this proposal: How is this “free” if someone else is paying for it?

With legislators like this, it is no wonder that California is the laughing stock of the nation.

Peter S. Griffith, Arcadia



To the editor: If we are going to leave this place better than we found it, we need to start somewhere. And free college for in-state students is a great place to begin.

What else could do so much for future generations?

Bill Page, Oxnard

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