It seems very ironic that our state flag has “California Republic” written on it. Out of all the states in the union, ours appears to be the least republican. Though Article IV, Section IV of the United States Federal Constitution declares all states would be guaranteed a republican form of government, ours has slowly passed into populism.
Every election, we have many proposition amendments to vote on. The electorate of the state of California has to legislate for the legislators. Both Republicans and Democrats have taken hits and gains from our populism. Because reversal in the political and legislative structure does not appear at close hand, we, as eligible voters of the state, are entrusted with self-education and self-legislation on matters of the highest political import. I am humbly offering a suggestion as to how one might view one of the many propositions found on the March primary election ballot. Because brevity in politics makes me uncomfortable, I will examine one: Proposition 55.
Prop 55 will probably garner the most support from the faculty and administration on campus. It allows for the issuance of $12.3 billion in bonds to be allocated to state educational facilities. The proposition seems fair, until one considers the sad fact that our state’s deficit is already massive, and that the bonds issued after the institution of this proposition will eventually be redeemed, with interest.
If Prop 55 supporters on our campus choose to sell their support by suggesting it will assist the UC system, they are simply being dishonest. In Chapter 3, Article 2, the proposition states that of the $12.3 billion accrued by this bond act, only $690 million will be provided to the entire UC system, including UC Hastings College of the Law. The 2004-05 UC budget for total operations, according to the UC President’s Budget Office website, is almost $13.8 billion. This bond makes out to be less than 5 percent of the entire University of California system budget. No dramatic changes will be seen with these numbers. UC Santa Barbara will see even less of these bond monies.
There are other, more fundamental, issues I have with Proposition 55. The proposition speaks of “overcrowded schools” as a blanket issue for all educational institutions, including the UC system.
Currently enrolled students of the UC system should want to see enrollment capacities preserved, if not lowered. Our generation is smaller than that of our parents. If the enrollment capacity of the UC system had been maintained, acceptance into the UC system would already be less of an achievement today. State administrators have been increasing enrollment. When enrollment is increased, the potential value of acceptance decreases. The value of our acceptance has already taken assaults and the results are clear. There are students attending UC institutions who probably shouldn’t be. Acceptance into the prestigious institutions of the UC system should remain a tremendous achievement. UC system students and alumni should want to retain that prestige by demanding greatness out of applicants by limiting, not expanding, enrollment.
Taxpayers should be infuriated by the idea of issuing bonds to assist higher education in addition to the tax dollars already allocated for state educational institutions. According to the Governor’s higher education budget website, only 29.3 percent of the cost of educational instruction in the UC system is paid for by the students. This seems ludicrous. UC students are paying for less that one-third of the cost of their education and Prop 55 supporters want to expand this practice? I don’t enjoy paying more for my UC instruction, mostly because I don’t think the instruction is worth its cost. But I am aware of times I am unintentionally in the act of theft by popular coercion.
Please read the Voter Information Guide(s) for the California Primary Election and read the actual propositions. Responding to your voting opportunities in this state with apathy would be and has been tragic.
Nicholas Romero is a senior philosophy major.