Study after study has shown that the unemployment rate for college graduates in California is half that of those who complete high school.

Another study by University of California found that for every new dollar the state invests in higher education, it receives three dollars in return.

So it would seem logical that there would be a huge effort to direct more young people toward college.

But that isn't occurring.

In fact, the state that once was the gold standard for public community colleges and universities ranks 40th in the nation in the percentage of high school graduates who go directly to higher education.

Ominously, a study by the Public Policy Institute projects if present trends continue, by 2025 California will be short 1 million of the college graduates the state needs.

Sacramento, prodded by organizations such as the Campaign for College Opportunity, is slowly awakening to this economic and human disaster facing the state and several bills are moving forward to begin to address it.

Chief among them is Senate Bill 1440 by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys. The bill would establish standards that for the first time would guarantee a community college student the ability to transfer to a California State University campus.

Currently, requirements vary among CSU campuses, causing community college students to take excess units and discourages many from continuing their education.

The bill is set for a hearing today.

A second piece of legislation, Assembly Bill 2542 by Assemblywoman Connie Conway, R-Visalia, would create a pilot project to improve student retention in community colleges, which rank in the bottom third nationwide in completion rates.

The bill would grant the pilot colleges exemptions from some existing regulations. But in return, colleges would no longer receive reimbursement based on the number of students in the third week of classes but on course completion. That's clearly an incentive to make sure students finish their course of study.

The  bill failed one committee vote but is set for reconsideration.

In both cases with SB 1440 and AB 2542, the cost is zero. But the benefits to the state's young and to its economy should ensure their passage.