Jerry Brown, Scott Walker confronting universities

Dan Walters:

Brown, meanwhile, is negotiating privately with Napolitano – herself a former governor of Arizona – to see whether compromise is reachable. A first increment of the threatened tuition increase has been postponed, but publicly Napolitano is threatening to cap admissions by California students.

The amount of state UC aid involved is relatively tiny and were it just about money, a compromise could be easily found. But the underlying issue is how much control governors and legislators should exert over university operations, given the system’s constitutional independence, and that point is less susceptible to compromise.

The faculties and administrators of both systems may dislike being told to descend from their ivory towers and join the real world of financial limits and competing priorities.

But the conflicts in both states are two sides of the same coin – whether there are limits on how hard state university systems can hit taxpayers and students for money and whether they are answerable to politicians, voters and students for how they spend that money.