Brown and Kashkari debate on plans for higher education

In the first and possibly the only debate of the gubernatorial race Thursday night, Republican candidate Neel Kashkari harped on Brown for allowing public universities to accept more nonresidents while Gov. Jerry Brown defended his track record, emphasizing that he has kept higher education affordable.

Brown is running for his fourth term as governor, after serving in the position during the 1970s and 1980s. Kashkari, who finished second in June’s primary, is challenging Brown for the general election on Nov. 4.

In the hour-long event, the two candidates debated Brown’s high-speed rail project to be built between the Bay Area and Los Angeles and the thousands of Central American children who are coming into the country unaccompanied. They also discussed ways to make higher education more affordable.

Kashkari said he thinks some state universities, including the University of California, have been enrolling too many nonresidents and too few students who live in the state.

“We have to make sure California kids come first, and get classes they need,” Kashkari said.

About 13 percent of undergraduate students at the UC are nonresidents, with about 20 percent of first-year students coming from out of state.

Kashkari also called for the state to fund the UC based on students’ progress, measured by criteria such as graduation and retention rates. He said he thinks funding based on enrollment – which the UC and some legislators have called for – leads to worse outcomes for students.

“Universities are incentivized to collect students and hoard them on campus, not to graduate them,” he said.

Defending his higher education policy, Brown said he has increased state funding and frozen tuition for the UC, California State University and California Community Colleges for the past three years. He added that he thinks measures like online education, which Brown has championed for years, can further reduce the cost of higher education.

At the earlier part of the debate, Brown and Kashkari also traded barbs about other issues, such as state finance.

Kashkari mainly attacked Brown for bringing what he called an anti-business climate in California. In response, Brown said he thinks he has made the state fiscally responsible, and he criticized Kashkari for his role in overseeing the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as the bailout.

“Bonuses that were given to executives during the bailout – $32 billion – talk about destroying the middle class,” Brown said.

The debate also brought up a number of hot topics, such as the high-speed rail project that Brown has championed and Kashkari has called a “crazy train.”

On the issue of immigration, Kashkari said he would send unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. back to their country of origin.

Brown said he plans to do his best to make sure undocumented individuals with driver’s licenses are not profiled by law enforcement. He added that he thinks the state should allow unaccompanied children to have judicial hearings.

Brown currently has a 16 percent lead in public support over Kashkari, according to a Field Poll released Thursday morning. According to the poll, only 59 percent of California’s likely voters know Kashkari.

“Kashkari needs to shake up the voters to change their opinion of Brown,” said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the poll.

DiCamillo said he thinks many voters are not interested in the election because Brown enjoys a large lead and there is U.S. Senate or presidential race. This may mean there will be a low turnout in November, as was the case in June’s primary election when only 25 percent of the electorate voted.

DiCamillo said this situation could help a Republican candidate like Kashkari in the upcoming race because Republican voters are more likely to vote in a low-turnout election.

Although Kashkari has challenged Brown to ten debates total, it is unlikely that another debate will happen by November.

Compiled by Jeong Park, Bruin senior staff.

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