The report says the past several years of increased higher education funding have not repaired the damage of the cuts in 2001. And look out, there is a record number of high school graduates on the way. It predicts that if the cuts proposed by the governor are approved, spending per student will be reduced, deserving students will be denied admission.
"Instead of investing in higher education, we're actually taking funds away and really closing the door of opportunity that several students currently in the 12th grade, 10th grade - that are preparing to go to our colleges and universities," said Michele Siqueiros, Campaign for College Opportunity.
The report comes from the Campaign for College Opportunity, a nonprofit founded five years ago by, among others, the California Business Roundtable and the Community College League of California. It says colleges and businesses are going to suffer for at least for a decade if the state's higher education institutions are hit with the proposed $1.1 billion dollars in budget cuts.
"Spending on higher education is really an investment for California, and that these dollars really have a huge return for our economy," said Michele Siqueiros.
Roberta Achtenberg is chairwoman of the board for the Cal State University system, which is looking at a $300 million dollar budget reduction. The report says that would reset the baseline of support for the CSU system. And by 2018:
"We will need one million baccalaureate and master degree holders to hold up the California economy and we won't have them," said Roberta Achtenberg, Chair, CSU Board of Trustees.
Community colleges could lose nearly half a billion dollars this year. The chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District says that will mean three things:
"Waiting lists, waiting lists, waiting lists," said Martha Kanter, Chancellor, Foothill Community College District.
And she says that goes for the 44,000 students in her district and for the two and a half million students at community colleges statewide. Add to that, higher student fees.
"This is insane, we keep building prisons and we should be building schools," said Martha Kanter.
There is another side to this coin - the governor's office says student fees in California compare favorably to those paid by students elsewhere. And Republicans in Sacramento look at people hurting from the sagging economy and say that's proof that there should be no new taxes.