Are gas prices high enough for you? They would go even higher if the California Legislature passes Assembly Bill 1326, by Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-South Los Angeles. The bill, in the Legislature's summary, "Imposes a 12.5 percent oil and gas severance tax and directs the proceeds of this tax to the California Higher Education Fund."

The higher education fund would send "unspecified amounts" to the University of California, Cal State and Community College systems. The tax would raise about $2.3 billion a year for the fund.

The whole thing would be overseen by a new bureaucracy named the California Higher Education Endowment Corp., which would have the power "to hire employees." The Legislature's own analysis warns that "there is no limit on the amount of higher education funds that can be spent on administration."

The analysis also found: "By allocating these moneys separate from the budget process, there is no legislative oversight of where the moneys are spent or how they coordinate with the funds these institutions receive in the annual budget act."

In introducing AB1326, Mr. Furutani explained, "In light of the recent drastic cuts endured by" the schools, "our state must explore all possible options to ensure that our higher education systems are able to meet the demand for higher education."

The budget cuts Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law March 24, after their passage by the Legislature, included: $500 million from the University of California system, $500 million from the Cal State University system and $500 million from the community colleges.

"AB1326 would just lead to higher gas prices for the motorist," David Kline told us; he's vice president of communications and research at the California Taxpayers Association. "It would be bad for the economy and cost jobs."

With the California economy finally enjoying a modest recovery, this or any other tax increase is the last thing we need.

In 2006, voters defeated Proposition 87, a $4 billion severance tax for alternative-energy research, 55-45 percent. And that was when the economy is booming.

Mr. Furutani's office told us that AB1326 will be heard May 3 in the Assembly Higher Education Committee. A better idea would be to expel this delinquent from school permanently.