State Assemblymember Das Williams, who represents California’s 35th District, has proposed a new bill that could provide additional funding for public higher education through revenue generated by state-owned properties.
AB 2442. which advanced from the Assembly floor to the State Senate last week, would create a California Hope Public Trust Fund to funnel revenue generated by certain public properties to the UC, CSU and California Community College systems. Currently, agencies who own state properties are required to provide annual reports of all ‘excess’ properties to the Department of General Services but the new bill would create a nine-member board that would hold administrative control over some of these properties.
The board would have the power to lease or sell the properties amongst other activities; all resulting proceeds would be allocated to the budgets of UC, CSU and California Community College campuses.
According to Williams, AB 2442 would give public university systems a dedicated revenue source and would greatly benefit higher education communities throughout California. Williams said education is an important sector to fund as it has the potential to offer future profits and advancements to various other sectors, providing the state with a healthy economy in the long run.
“The number of graduates we produce — especially in science, mathematics, engineering and computer science — is why many businesses will relocate to California. Our best resources are our graduates,” Williams said. “We are endangering our greatest natural resource if we allow fees to rise.”
If the bill passes, the Department of General Services would be required to provide annual inventory reports of all state-owned properties and lease agreements beginning March 31, 2013; however, the board would not decide which properties’ revenue would be earmarked for education until early 2015.
Williams said AB 2442 will take some time to start up but will produce a reliable profit to keep California’s higher education system afloat.
“It wouldn’t be a lot of money in the first year or two, but a few years down the line, it’ll be a significant source of revenue,” Williams said. “Every year, the amount of money would be growing.”
If the bill passes, the board overseeing the California Hope Public Trust Fund would be permitted to acquire or dispose of any property, under certain legal limitations, as well as lease properties to both public and private groups.
UCSB Campus Democrats President Erik Anciaux said the bill is one of many attempts Williams has made to reform the state budget process so higher education is given greater priority.
“I strongly support [Williams] for his continued efforts in making education more affordable for California students,” Anciaux said. “He works for the protection of the environment, promotes higher education and encourages all people to have a voice.”