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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Editorial: Transparency law

Today’s decision by Gov. Schwarzenegger to either veto or enact Senate Bill 330 will have major implications for financial transparency within the California higher education system.

It would be in the best interest of the students of UC as well as California taxpayers for the governor to enact the bill, as it will create a greater openness of university funds.

Part of the bill calls into question the anonymity of donors to California public schools, according to university officials in favor of a veto.

It is only under certain conditions, however, that names, addresses and phone numbers of donors will be disclosed.

Donors will no longer be afforded anonymity if they receive compensation valued at $500 or more in exchange for the donation or if they try to influence curriculum.

These added stipulations are important amendments to this bill. They will allow the public to account for differences in gifts and compensation, making it easier to track the allocation of UC funds.

It is also important to ensure public awareness when donors try to designate their monetary gifts for a particular purpose.

Additionally, there is evidence that suggests that eliminating donor anonymity can actually lead to more donations, not less as UC and CSU claim.

A court ruling in Iowa mandated that records held by the Iowa State University Foundation be disclosed.

After the ruling, the university system benefited from a 26 percent increase in donations. Over the following four years, the university averaged an annual $54.7 million increase in funds.

While it is tough to predict if there will be any negative implications resulting from the bill, UC estimates a $7.5 million loss as a result. However, this is difficult to prove and does not account for the value of transparency.

UC should not be afraid to show how its funds are allocated. Keeping funds secret leads to corruption within the system and will likely cause donations to decrease.

Therefore, enacting SB 330 would be the wisest decision for Schwarzenegger.

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