Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California proposed a constitutional amendment in his State of the State address on Wednesday that would require the state to spend more money on higher education than it does on prisons.
The proposal, which would face large hurdles before it could become law, would dedicate billions of dollars in new state support for California's struggling colleges and universities. The plan follows decades in which spending on the state's growing prison population has exploded while spending on higher education has declined.
Under the proposal, California would be required to spend no less than 10 percent of its annual budget on public colleges and universities and no more than 7 percent on prisons. The state currently spends 11 percent on prisons and 7.5 percent on higher education, said Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican.
Keep in mind California is hardly the liberal, granola state it appears to be, so I'm skeptical his amendment will actually pass the legislature. California gave us Three Strikes, Manatory-Minimums and Super-max prisons during the 1990's, and while the state virtually went bankrupt trying to hold the tens of thousands of petty criminals locked up for life without parole, the public force behind those initiatives will probably always be there.
Still, you have to give the "Governator" credit. The correlation between education (the lack thereof) and ending up in prison has never been more apparent than it is today. Not only did Schwarzenegger recognize this in his speech, but if he succeeds with this amendment, it would put the state of California back in the vanguard of dealing with both higher education and imprisonment.
This time, in a good way.