With Proposition 30 on this season’s election ballot, California voters will have the chance to determine whether California’s pub- lic education sector — including the University of California and California State University systems — will continue to be cut or receive additional funding.
The ballot initiative would include a four- year increase on the sales tax, marking it up from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent, and establish a seven-year raise on income taxes for individuals earning more than $250,000 a year. The tax increases would help close the current deficit in the state budget, which is one of the highest in the nation as well as provide the UC system alone with an additional $175 million in funding.
According to the UC Office of the President spokesperson Dianne Klein, if the proposition fails to pass, the UC would endure a mid-year trigger during the current school year.
“So we would have this glaring cut of $375 million and we’re in a whole lot of trouble,” Klein said. “What that would mean is a mid- year tuition increase [which would] obviously have to be approved by the Regents.” However, the decreased funding would also result in more staff layoffs and program consolidations, Klein said, adding that the UC system has already eliminated or consolidated 180 programs, made 4,200 staff layoffs and has listed more than 9,500 staff members as ‘unfilled’ or ‘eliminated’ — in addition to raising tuition by 84 percent since 2007. Moreover, the university system has also been searching for other sources of income,
such as philanthropic donations, Klein said. “Everybody is sharing the pain, but you come to a point where you can’t really cut or increase tuition or other fees without compromising the quality of the university, so we’re trying to increase private and corporate giving,” Klein said. “It is a new reality and [it is] one we are trying to deal with as painlessly as we can.” Supporters of the proposition include members of the California Teachers Association, California State Council of Service Employees and California League of Women Voters while those in opposition include members of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and small business owners within the National Federation of Independent Businesses and Small Business Action Committee.
Some opponents say the proposition does not guarantee a specified amount of money toward education but merely a promise of such funding. UC Regent and CSU trustee Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome recently voiced criticisms against Brown’s proposition during a radio interview, stating that it misleads students into thinking that tuition will not increase when it would only guarantee a temporary breather from the con- tinuous hikes.
According to Republican State Assembly candidate Rob Walter, voting ‘yes’ on Proposition 30 would drive corporate revenue and business activity out of California.
“The reason I think it should not pass is that it brings this assumption that if you’re against Prop 30, you’re against Prop 30 and nothing could be further from the truth,” Walter said. “This is not the way to go about it. The problem from a business standpoint [is] that there is absolutely no question that this proposition will push businesses out of the state. California, for the seventh year in a row, has been rated [by CEO Magazine] as the worst state to have businesses in. Although [businesses] may have headquarters here, they do not expand here.”
Walter said enacting tax increases is not the most efficient way for the state to find educational funding.
“Of the four fastest growing states, three of them — Texas, Florida and Tennessee — don’t even have a state income tax,”
Walter said. “And California concludes that the way to help education is through taxes; it provides a mask for the government to be irresponsible in other areas of spend- ing.”
According to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young, if the proposition fails, cuts will have a dramatic impact on schools since there would be no other sources of funding. However, Young added that the full scope of potential effects remains unclear.
“I think it would be devastating for the campus [if Prop 30 failed] because, among other things, it [would] trigger automatic cuts that [would] impact services students receive, departments in student affairs and students’ academic program[s],” Young said. “In addition, there are likely to be tuition increases, but to be clear, no one really knows what will exactly hap- pen. In any case, it’s going to be bad if it doesn’t pass, by either taking the money out of the departments or [the] raising of tuition.”
According to Associated Students President Sophia Armen, failure of the proposition and the potential for resulting fee increases would force some students to leave school altogether.
“The reality is pure and simple for us, as students: If Prop 30 doesn’t pass, the cuts to the UC and fee increases it will produce will affect our daily lives and, for some of us, mean [that] UC [fees] for Winter quarter will be just too expensive to afford and [students] will have to drop out or take on more loans,” Armen said.
With such high amounts of university funding at stake, Armen said it is entirely necessary that university students and supporters vote in favor of the bill.
“Prop 30 is a necessity. … But we as students must be critical of how we got here — there [is a] lack of transparency [on how] our money is [being spent] by the Regents [and a] lack of priorities of the state and the actions of the very politicians currently pouring money into these campaigns,” Armen said. “Voting is a necessity but the bare minimum, for the UC tuition has raised over 50 percent in just my four years here, making education less and less accessible. It is apparent that the future is up to us — the students.”