California Needs to Fund Public Education and Social Services, Not Prisons

Posted on 14 November 2011

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By Amy Vanderwarker, Critical Resistance and Matt Haney, University of California Students Association

Last Wednesday night, more than one thousand students and campus workers at University of California Berkeley held a day of action protesting budget cuts and fee increases to build momentum toward a state-wide demonstration at the UC Regents meeting on November 17th.  Like other Occupy movements around the country, the crowd was cleared with police violence and mass arrests.  The irony was not lost on one professor, who noted that the sharp rise in student debt has occurred during a period where prison funding has consistently been prioritized over funding for higher education.

Indeed, California is now a leader on two counts that don’t make any resident proud: we have the largest prison population in the country, and our public universities have hiked tuition the most of any state in the country, 21% in the past year alone.[1] We now spend nearly equivalent amounts of money on locking people in cages as we do providing opportunities for higher education – 10.5 % of total state spending versus 12.7 %.[2]

There is a disturbing, inverse relationship to public education and the number of people locked up in cages: our prison population and budget has skyrocketed, while the amount of spending on public education has plummeted. Spending on prisons has grown 1500% since 1980, while higher education spending has dropped. Since 1980, our state built 1 university and 20 prisons. K-12 faced a 10.5% cut in 2009-2010, and per pupil spending has steadily decreased since 1980.[3]

Despite these deep cuts to public education, on top of similar cuts  to Health and Human Services and our social safety net, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Governor Brown and County Boards of Supervisors are pushing forward  the largest prison building project in the history of the world. In 2007, as the economic crisis was starting to unfold in the boardrooms and trading floors of the 1%, and predatory lending schemes were about to hit millions of Californians, the state authorized AB 900, which called for $12.4 billion to build 53,000 more prison and jail cells, which will cost taxpayers roughly $1.5 billion per year to operate. Our state prisons currently hold around 156,000 people,[4] and conditions are so atrocious that in May the US Supreme Court ordered the population to be reduced.

Just over two weeks ago, as schools and universities across the state brace for the possibility of devastating trigger cuts, CDCR asked for counties to submit proposals to disperse $603 million in  funds to build new jail cells. The funding is part of Phase II of AB 900 and directly linked to “realignment,” where the state is transferring the responsibility for low-level prisoners to counties But instead of giving counties incentives to provide alternatives to imprisonment or re-entry services, such as educational opportunities that could strengthen entire communities in crisis, the state is making it easier for counties to access AB 900 money and only providing counties financial incentives to build more cells.

Where is our state getting money to build cages? Slashing the social safety net and the budget for public education and tuition hikes. Budget cuts figuratively, and literally, make students pay. Tuition at UC schools has increased 200% since 2008.[5]  UC President Yudoff has proposed increasing tuition as much as 81%, in the face of a potential $2.5 billion dollar cut to education this winter.[6] California Community Colleges faced a tuition increase of 37% in 2011.

Let’s not forget the dollars that are often left out of the estimated costs of public education: student debt. About 56% of students who earned bachelor's degrees at public colleges in 2009-10 graduated with debt, with an average burden of $22,000. In 2011, this number grew 5 percent, to over $25,000.[7]

We spend a whooping $46,000 a year on keeping people confined, away from loved ones and in atrocious conditions, while we spend a mere $8,908 a year per youth in our elementary, middle and high schools. California leads the nation in prison spending, but we rank 46th in terms of K-12 per pupil spending. What would it look like if those numbers were reversed?

On November 9th and 16th, despite police repression, thousands of students in California are drawing attention to the slashing of public education funds through the ReFund Public Education Week of Action. Mobilizations are happening on 16 campuses across the State including in Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Riverside which are also some of the counties seeking AB 900 funding to expand their jails.

As part of the Occupy movement, in mobilizations and school walk-outs across the state, people are saying no to public education austerity measures, and identifying solutions for generating progressive revenue streams in a time of economic recession: tax the rich and corporations, and use public money to bail out residents, not banks and Wall Street firms. The Occupy movement  has mobilized tens of thousands of people to protest the consolidation of wealth among a small group of people, the obscene profits that corporations are making while everyday residents watch their social services cut on a daily basis, and the use of public funds to prop up these corrupt institutions.

Our list of demands needs to include cutting prison spending first, not last, and making those cuts by sending people home with strong re-entry services, not making conditions inside even worse. California needs a prison and jail construction moratorium now, or we will never have free higher education. Just as the 99 percent says that it is time for banks and corporations to pay, it is time for California to get our priorities straight: fund public education and social services, not prisons.

For more information, check:,,,,

1 California leads nation in escalation of college costs, By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2011,0,5233674.story

2 California Budget Project, “California’s Public Schools have experienced deep cuts in funding since 2007-8” and “ Steady Climb: State Corrections Spending in California”

3 California Budget Project, “California’s Public Schools have experienced deep cuts in funding since 2007-8”


5 Elysse James, “UC schools increase fall tuition 8%,%=” Orange County Register, Nov. 18, 2010,

6 Larry Gordon, “Tuition increase alarms UC board,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 16, 2011

7 College Graduates’ Debt Burden Grew, Yet Again, in 2010

Amy Vanderwarker is a member of Critical Resistance, and a part of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), a statewide alliance of over 40 organizations seeking to control prison spending by reducing the number of people in prison and the number of prisons in the state.

Matt Haney is the Executive Director of the University of California Students Association (UCSA), a coalition of students and student governments that aims to provide a collective voice for all students through advocacy and direct action.

I think if WE the People should "regulate" the activities of our government just as our government "regulate" the Banking Industry and most other Industries in our nation.

I bet you it would solve alot of the waste, fraud and mismanagement within our GOVERNMENT and would stop the bleeding of our TREASURY.

Good governance should always be operating at a "balance" budget. Any diviation from a balance budget require public scrutiny. That should be the rule of thumb. Plain and simple. Our government should operate under that premise and build upon that.

The tax payer has created a separate bureau that was entrusted to do this oversight. The Bureau of State Auditor is the responsible independent overseer of the fiscal activities of our states fiscal activities. If there is huge budget problem, that bureau should be the first target for the public. The Treasury is suppose to manage the incoming revenues and the transfers of these funds for expenditures. The Controller typiclly manages accounting, disbursments and financing of capital projects therefore involved in the budgetary processes.

These activities generally are consolidated at the local and municipal level; county; state; and Federal level in that order.

Somewhere in the normal flow of these funds (taxpayers funds deposited into the US Treasury) something was broken and that leak was never mended. In a digital stage and a computerized world, this should have never happened. That loophole is one of the major cause of our government's deficit problem.

I have written about an incident which I shared with some of the Californi Progress Report bloggers . I have discovered that in the State of California the State Treasury is utilizing an check writer system that has the ability to write virtually produce identical duplicate original checks. That is Fraudulent.

I recieved a two (2) identical checks disbursed from the State Office of Treasurer, Bill Lockyer that was paid to me on behalf of the Department of Industrial Relation-from a fund called Subsequent Injury Board Trust Fund (SIBTF), for a particular pay-period. Subsequently, when I brought it the attention of the State Agency I demanded an explanation. I requested the agency to send me a replacement check and told them that I have voided the two identical checks they sent to me. When I recieved the replacement check, the State Treasury sent me another check for the same pay-period. These fiscal activities if you will (or transactions) should have never occured. I repeat, this should NEVER have happened unless the check writing system used in the treasury is CORRUPT. The transaction was FRAUDULENT.

NO one has yet given an explanation. The items involved in this fraudulent transaction activity involves check#305-890438 (two identical original checks);#305-891832 (replacement for ck#305-890438); and check#305-892960 (a duplicate payment for pay period of check#305-305-891832).

I reported this incident to the Bureau of State Audit but no one has provided an explanation or given me an answer when I reported this incident. The Bureau of State Audit is responsible for overseeing the fiscal activities and conducting an audit to make sure that the fiscal reports provided to the public is SOUND. I have been an Accounting Professional; a Compliance Auditor; and a Controller for over twenty years of my career to know that this finding is significant. The public deserves to know. Elaine Howle, is doing a disservice to the public she is suppose to be serving by keeping this incident a secret. California deserves better. California deserves the right to know how the tax payers treasury is being spent; how it is being accounted for and why the State of California is in a huge deficit.

If Ms. Howle think by keeping silent about this issue; that it is going away, she is mistaken. Elaine Howle job is to make sure the accounting system in place and the internal control is set properly to safeguard the peoples money (STATE TREASURY)and to conduct the appropriate audit so that it will deter dishonest state government employees from committing such criminal activities.

I have been an Accountant/Compliance Auditor/Controller for over twenty years. The government may be able to fool the general public but I am one that can not be fooled.

The Californians are chaotic at the possibilities of more TAX increases and less funding for the needed services in our STATE. This treatens the life of every citizen in California and will impact not just the other States in our Union but how the WORLD will view our government.

The Judicial System in California has violated my Civil Rights by failing to adhere to laws that govern a citizens rights to privacy, protection, safety, and due process of the law; the State and Federal Laws that is guaranteed to every citizens of our nation under our Constitution.

California is one of the top 10 economy on Earth. The government officials who run the peoples business has a powerful role but not as powerful as the role of the Citizens collectively. The State Auditor has a duty to inform the people of California when there is corrupt activity in this magnitude so the citizens can demand accountability from the government official responsible for the Fraud, waste and mismanagement. The system that is used to create the two identical checks issued to me was purchased by State Department of Finance from Oracle several decades ago during the tenure when Governor Brown "first" became our States'Governor.

California IS the original Silicon Valley--Known for high-tech and superb innovation from all over the world. There is NO reason our government can not come to a balance budget. We have the technology; computers and collection of bright intelligent human resources available within our State of California to run an effective, efficient system of governance. I am highly critical at the fact that our government is still utilizing check disbursement when it can utilize direct deposit. That system is far more efficient, less costly, and better for internal control of fiscal activities. Using the electronic system can provide an Audit Trail and can make it difficult for white-collar crime to occur.

I would encourage some feedback from our government officials and public transparencies. WE Californian deserve better.

XYZZXSJ02 (XS in Duncan/Baker v WCAB XS)

Dear XYZZXSJO2 (XS in Duncan/Baker v WCAB XS),

You invited feedback from government officials. Here's some from the Caklifornia State Treasurer's Office.

Your accusation fraud and corruption plague the State's check writing system is reckless. It's 100 percent false. And it betrays an astonishing level of ignorance from a person who claims more than 20 years of experience as an accountant, compliance auditor and controller.

You say you received two identical checks from the State Treasurer's Office. Wrong. If you did receive two identical checks, they came from the Department of Industrial Relations. All checks from State agencies include the notation the Treasurer shall pay from the State Treasury. Because of that notation, apparently, you assume the checks came from our department. They did not.

Here's how the system works, in case you're interested in facts. An agency distributes a check. The check is cashed or deposited at a bank. The bank presents the check to our office. And we determine whether to release funds from the Treasury to cover the check.

Which brings us to the most important point of this rebuttal. All agencies give our office a list of all checks they distribute. If a bank presents to our office duplicate checks, we would not honor the duplicate. Instead, we would return it to the bank. The bank then has burden of trying to get its money back from the party who cashed or deposited the duplicate check. If the bank fails, they eat the loss. The State Treasury loses nothing.

Here's how tight the system is when it comes to preventing fraud and taxpayer losses: If a check comes to us, and it differs in any way, in the slightest degree, from the information on agencies' list of distributed checks, we reject it.

I hope this clarifies matters for you, XYZZXSJO2 (XS in Duncan/Baker v WCAB XS).

Take care,

Tom Dresslar
Spokesman, California State Treasurer's Office

Dear Mr. Dresslar,

I did in fact recieve TWO idential "original" check with the same amount; the same date; the same CHECK NUMBER; the same account number; etc. I immediately voided the two identical checks, notified my attorneys, notified the DWC Audit Unit. Eric Krouse suggested that I cash one of the check and return the other identical check to them. I was frankly disturbed by that suggestion. I suggested to Mr. Krouse that I prefer that his office send me a replacement check. After several email correspondences I eventually explained that I have voided the two identical checks and sent copies of it to DIR Audit Unit and explaining my position. DWC Audit Unit Manager respond in a letter dated August 28, 2009

Check number 305-890438 (identical) was replaced by another check. That is the only check I cashed. Days later, I received another check. This a duplicate payment for the same PD pay-period. I voided this check and alerted the Bureau of State Auditor and reported the incident.

I recieved a confirmation letter and a case was assigned for investigation. I also notified my State Representative via UPSP certified letter concerning this matter, under advice of the Whistle-Blower Hotline. I sent copies of my notice to a local Public Accounting/Auditing Firm; so that my evidence are secured just in case my government accuse me of not telling the truth.

The DIR-DWC Audit Unit Manager Christine M King indicated that this matter has been referred to the "appropriate parties" for investigation. The Investigator Manager Russ Hayden at the Bureau of State Auditor indicated that an investigation will be conducted.

I assume the appropriate parties include: State Treasurer Bill Lockyer; Former Director of Internal Relation John C. Duncan; State Controller; Accounting/Auditing Officers; perhaps the State Attorney General; and perhaps the former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I don't know for a fact if these individuals are the "appropriate parties" Ms. King was referring to in her letter.

Perhaps you, Mr. Dressler may be able to provide me with that information.

If the appropriate parties I assumed were correct, then these individuals may be able to explain this matter to the public.

My question:

1) Can you explain to me how DIR was able to produce TWO identical ORIGINAL checks? THAT IS FRAUDULENT
2) Suppose I accepted Mr. Krouse suggestion to return one of the identical check to the State and cash the other one. What is the accounting entry to this transaction? Furthermore, if I returned one of this check as VOIDED and cashed the other check, what is the proper accounting entry? How do the state reconcile its accounts? If I returned the other check to the state WITHOUT writing VOID across the face of the check, What entry will the state make? Typically checks recieved uncashed and not voided may be entered at expiration as a staled checks and the amount of the check is credited back to the account where the check was originated. What effect do you think this may have on the overall accuracy of the State wide Fiscal Reporting? How do you suppose an accountant who's task is to perform a bank reconciliation will be able to reconcile the account? THAT IS A WASTE of government resources.
3) I believe there is a LAW that says (let me paraphrase) The issuer of checks takes reponsibility for managing its account. If the issuer issues a check that is original and the bank cashes the check, the issuer is responsible for the check that has been cashed. If the scenario you described above is true; that the bank will have to take the loss, the Banking industry would have a serious issue with the government. What you are implying is that the LOSS is shifted to the BANK even when the mistake is borne by government. SOMETHING is very WRONG in matter. The crooks get away with the cash and the bank takes the loss and the government gets away with the mistakes that caused the LOSS. That is how our government manage this situation? I call that appalling. This are the kinds of explanation that leads me to question how our government is managing our resources. That is clearly unacceptable. If I was a BANKER, I would question this tactic of shifting LOSSES to the bank and demand answers from our government official. The government leadership (if you call that leadership) has the responsibility to safeguard our Treasury and the public's asset and are expected to practice management that is sound, honest and responsible. Shifting LOSSES to the bank when in this hypothesis is not good policy; when the duplicate error is made by the government. "THEY EAT THE LOSSES"?

Suppose I was dishonest and successfully cashed both identical original checks through two different bank, how will the State account for that transaction? Are you suggesting that the bank who cashed the second check is deemed responsible for the loss? I don't think so. The government that issued the duplicate identical checks is responsible for the loss. Perhaps the government may place the blame on XYZZX. Suppose the other check was cashed by another person intent on robbing the treasury, is the government going still place the blame on XYZZX for the government role in issuing an identical duplicate check? How do we expect our government manage this situation? This raises a question? Erik Krouse responses to me offer a glimps of how government handle this situation. The mere fact that all internal control failed leads me to believe that the office of DIR is being MISMANAGED.

Now apply that micro incident to a Macro theory. What do you think the public will react to? If it happened once to me, it may have happened before. As a matter of fact a DUPLICATE payment for the same pay-period was issued again to me, shortly after a replacement check was issued. Don't worry, I voided the duplicate check payment, so no one may be able to cash it. I am suprised and disturbed that no one at DIR notified me that a duplicate payment was inadvertantly issued to me. That was the last draw that prompted me to report this matter to the Bureau of State Auditor.

Do you want me to provide you with more examples why I have reasons to believe that our government is corrupted and where it exist?

I promise you that an IDENTICAL ORIGINAL CHECK was issued to me and a duplicate paymnent following the replacement check. Now that you know, did you report this to the appropriate party in your office?

Is Treasurer Bill Lockyer aware of this matter? Has the issue been resolved? How did the STATE have this ability to issue an identical check? Who is responsible? What method and authorities do the "appropriate party" have as far as bringing accountability to this matter?

You have indicated that the Treasury check, issued to me; with Bill Lockyer's name printed on it, was actually issued, by the Department of Industrial Relations. If I was the Treasurer and this matter was brought to my attention, I frankly would be very concern. I assume the Office of Treasury Department is very concern. I detected this by the tone of your reply and the obvious defensiveness on your part.

Your concerned Citizen,

Dear Mr. Dressler,

I would remind you that YOU are not in a "position" to cast public personal insults to the public you are expected to serve. Afer all you are a public servant. Don't forget that. I admit that my english is not as well as yours but as a communication professional; that is to be expected of you. Don't you dare assault me publicly again or insult my intelligence; with your arrogance unless you are willing to accept responsibility for consequences that may follow.

You may rebuttle any of my allegation, or correct me when I am wrong. I personally can accept that. I will not however, take such an abusive remark from you or from anyone in that matter.

You work for the public and you should conduct yourself in that manner.

Mocking me publicly does not make you right. You may not know that I have been physically beaten nearly to death in the course of doing my work, in a public place that DIR should have been aware of the unsafe working condition. This insuries resulted in multiple irreversible injuries that rendered me impaired.

Clearly my ability to write and speak was impared by a Traumatic Brain Injuries and other physical and medical conditions related to the industrial injuries I sustained. It has also affected me in virtually all aspect of my life. I am certain that Department of Industrial Relations is aware of my History and my condition. As matter of fact the Agency has exposed my fundamental rights to Privacy and my protected confidential medical information. So they are very well aware of me. This is a fair warning for you. Stop insulting the public and me. That is not part of a public servants duty.

I don't expect your public apology or your pity but you are required to treat the public with dignity. I have had enough of the misconduct and abuses perpetrated against me and the people of California, by this government. Again YOUR conduct just demonstrated why the public is so frustrated. I am already experience the ramifications of your public insult against me and causing me more problems. DIR Agency has already caused me tremendous amount of damages and your "public insults" is contributing to that.

I do expect you to provide me with the information I publicly requested and ANSWERS to the questions I have provided. I have respected your comments and respectfully responded to you in a decently. Your silent to my question will only demonstrate your arrogance and misconducts to the viewers on-line.

You are the spokeperson for the Treasury Department; you led me to initiate a public inquiry and you should respond appropriately.

XYZZXSJ02 (XS of Baker v WCAB (Xs)aka Duncan v WCAB)

And yet the Regents backed AB 131, giving Illegal Aliens $40 Million of Legal Students' State aid and further impacting education budget. This will only become larger every year. Say goodbye to YOUR higher education. Sorry if the truth hurts. :(

Relationship implies cause and effect. Their may be a (negative) correlation between number of prisoners and funding for education, but the relationship, if any, probably derives from a common cause: too many poor, simple people, as a result of open borders policies and the welfare magnet provided by California.
Ask LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
California will never again be the great state it was in the 1950s and earlier. Only mindless socialists think otherwise.
November 14, 2011 6:00 AM

Chancellor Birgeneau recommends additional increases in tuition for instate Californians for 2012-13. Californians are reeling from 19% unemployment (includes: those forced to work part time; those no longer searching), mortgage defaults, loss of unemployment benefits. And those who still have jobs are working longer for less. Faculty wages must reflect California's ability to pay, not what others are paid.
Current pay increases for generously paid University of California Faculty is arrogance. Instate tuition consumes 14% of Ca. Median Family Income!
Paying more is not a better education. UC Berkeley(# 70 Forbes) tuition increases exceed the national average rate of increases. Chancellor Birgeneau has molded Cal. into the most expensive public university.
UC President Yudof, Cal. Chancellor Birgeneau($450,000 salary) dismissed many much needed cost-cutting options. They did not consider freezing vacant faculty positions, increasing class size, requiring faculty to teach more classes, doubling the time between sabbaticals, cutting & freezing pay & benefits for chancellors & reforming pensions & the health benefits.
They said such faculty reforms “would not be healthy for UC”. Exodus of faculty, administrators? Who can afford them and where would they go?
We agree it is far from the ideal situation, but it is in the best interests of the university system & the state to stop cost increases. UC cannot expect to do business as usual: raising tuition; granting pay raises & huge bonuses during a weak economy that has sapped state revenues & individual Californians’ income.
There is no question the necessary realignments with economic reality are painful. Regent Chairwoman Lansing can bridge the public trust gap with reassurances that salaries & costs reflect California’s ability to pay. The sky above UC will not fall when Chancellor Birgeneau is ousted.

Opinions? Email the UC Board of Regents

Californians subsidize the tuition of foreign students. Foreign student tuition does not include the depreciation of fixed assets paid for by Californians The depreciation of fixed assets would make foreign tuition $125,000 + (instead of $50,600) and NOT subsidize instate tuition.
. Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) displaces Californians qualified for public university education at Cal. for a $50,600 payment by a foreign student. The need for transparency at UC Berkeley has never been so clear.

UC Berkeley, # 70 Forbes ranking, is not increasing enrollment. Birgeneau accepts $50,600 foreign students at the EXPENSE of displaced qualified instate Californians (If amortization of fixed assets funded by Californians are included in foreign and out of state tuition calculations they would pay more than $125,000+ and would NOT subsidize instate tuition)

UC Regent Chairwoman Lansing and President Yudof both agree to discriminate against Californians for the admission of foreigners. Birgeneau, Yudof, Lansing need to answer to Californians.

Opinions make a difference; email UC Board of Regents

Half of the $46,000 gpes to the pay of the much overpaid guards and their average $100,000+ earnings per year which includes overtime. Their union is so strong no governor has a chance to correct the situation. Bring their salaries back to a reasonable amount and give the savings to education and bring counseling and education back to our prisons.