Associated Students held a press conference yesterday to come out against a potential UCSB administrative tax hike that members feel could shortchange students.
The tax increase – a plan proposed by the administration to help the university through this year’s budgetary woes – would be levied on on-campus entities that do not receive state funding and are therefore “protected” from state budget cuts. A.S. members say they worry that the tax will unfairly drain resources from programs that students vote to support via lock-in fees.
A.S. members say that since lock-in fees are part of a program’s revenue, taxing the program is in essence the same as taxing the lock-in fee.
While the tax would not change the actual amount that students pay in lock-in fees, A.S. President J.P. Primeau said the university would be unfairly burdening student-supported services.
“Students are upset [over the tax] because budget fees affect education,” Primeau said. “Services are being cut, fees are being raised and the university is looking at taxing campus-based student fees. It seems as though the campus is looking for a roundabout way to tax the entities students have been trying to protect.”
While not in attendance at the conference, administrators in previous interviews have defended the proposed tax, arguing that it is necessary in the dire budgetary situation. Although officials emphasized that the proposal was in no way final, Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said the tax was an equitable way to help the university deal with its mounting budget problems.
Additionally, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Donna Carpenter said the drafting of the tax has been “fair and reasonable and consistent” and stressed the magnitude of the university’s financial crisis.
“We’re in such a situation here,” Carpenter said. “Everyone needs to share in these cuts.”
Administrators said the tax would be levied to help cover the amount that these non-state funded entities cost the campus in central services, such as billing. Assistant Chancellor of Budget and Planning Todd Lee said the tax would make sure every part of the campus was paying its “fair share.”
“Everybody has contributed in some form – students are paying higher fees, there’s no doubt about that,” Lee said.
The university currently imposes a 1 percent tax on non-state funded entities such as the Student Resource Building, Daily Nexus and Housing and Residential Services. This tax generates about $950,000 per year.
According to A.S. Finance Board member Dan Plotkin, this tax could potentially increase to 5 percent or more. He said students will not only be paying taxes and fees but their services will also decline.
“This campus has a history since 1944 of passing referenda to allow students to decide where their money goes to,” Plotkin said. “[This tax] strips us of our democratic right to vote for what our money goes for. Instead of the money going to cultural organizations, organizations providing safe spaces, student services, Student Health and Recreational Sports … it will be paying for the salaries of those who decided to tax you. All this contributes to the privatization of the UCs.”
A.S. Off-Campus Representative Sinead Kennedy said the new tax would make the Students’ Initiative – a quarterly $100-per-undergraduate fee passed in a special election in Fall 2006 – useless.
“The tax will be taking the initiative away,” Kennedy said. “Students voted for $100 so it should be $100. And Finance Board will have way less money to distribute to student groups.”