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Ad links Gilmore to cuts for higher ed

SACRAMENTO -- The election is still more than two months away, but Republican Assembly candidate Danny Gilmore already is being targeted in a television advertisement.

The ad is being paid for not by his Democratic opponent in the South Valley's 30th Assembly District race, Fran Florez, but by the California Faculty Association. The union represents 23,000 professors, counselors, librarians and coaches in the California State University system, including Fresno State.

The ad, running in the Fresno media market, features footage of young students as a voice-over suggests that budget cuts supported by Republicans will hurt their college chances.

Here's a closer look at the ad and how it compares with the facts.

The ad:

"They don't give much campaign cash to politicians, can't afford lobbyists, and only a few are even old enough to vote. So when Sacramento Republicans support a budget with massive education cuts, Danny Gilmore promises to support his party's agenda. Republican budget cuts will cost thousands of students their chance to go to college. That might not mean much for Danny Gilmore's career. But it could mean everything for our kids. Republicans in Sacramento are failing our children. We can't afford another flunking politician."


The ad tries to link Gilmore to sitting Republicans. Gilmore, a retired California Highway Patrol officer from Hanford, has never held elective office and therefore has no voting record on education. On his Web site, he describes himself as a fiscal conservative who is against raising taxes, so in that sense he shares the view of GOP lawmakers in Sacramento.

The term "massive education cuts" is somewhat misleading.

The Republican K-14 education proposal would give $57.7 billion to schools and community colleges. This is more than last year's $56.7 billion, but short of the $58.9 billion in the Democrats' plan. The two parties have yet to agree on a state budget, now 57 days late.

Republicans have not put forth a detailed plan on funding higher education. But, generally, they say spending for all state departments should not go up beyond current levels.

State higher education spending has remained relatively flat in recent years and would fall this year under Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposal. The Democrats' plan also includes some cuts.

Union leaders say colleges and universities need more money to avoid turning away students and increasing fees. Student fees are already carrying more of the funding load.

The California State University system, for example, is increasing fees by $276 for the 2008-09 academic year to $3,048.

But CSU fees still are among the lowest in the nation, and many low-income residents will get financial aid to offset the increase, according to CSU.