The life of a student isn’t what it used to be. With overcrowded classrooms, limited financial aid and increased tuition costs, higher education in California is barely staying afloat.
It’s because of this that Gov. Jerry Brown has taken charge with Proposition 30, which aims to bring back funds to universities and lessen the increasing financial burdens that are being shifted from the state to college students.
The measure would temporarily increase personal income taxes on those who make more than $250,000 a year and would raise California sales tax by 0.25 percent. These funds would be allocated to K-12 public education, community colleges and public safety.
Prop. 30 would help students like SF State communication studies major Marcela Pimentel, who is forced to spend less time with her textbooks and more time working to cover the rising costs of education.
“Right now I work two jobs because the cost of tuition has been going up and financial aid is giving me less and less,” Pimentel said. “I have to pay a lot on my own.”
Pimenteo is part of the on-campus organization Students for Quality Education, which fights for affordable and accessible higher education for everyone. The group is putting in extra effort to make students aware of the measures that are going to directly affect them this November, including Prop. 30.
The organization has been actively tabling around campus, “raising awareness about the impacts of (the) proposition,” Pimentel said.
The measure’s failure would trigger automatic cuts to the California State University system of $250 million in state support, according to the official summary of Prop. 30. The CSU trustees approved a contingency plan to raise tuition by $150 per semester if the proposition fails, which would go into effect in January of 2013.
If the proposition passes, tuition would be retroactively rolled back to 2011-12 levels, rescinding the 9 percent hike that went into effect at the beginning of this semester. Each student would receive a $249 rebate check.
“We have already lost nearly $1 billion in state support and if Prop. 30 fails and the cuts get deeper, it’s going to be harder and harder to protect students from those cuts,” CSU spokesman Erik Fallis said.
Fallis explained that the CSU system is in dire need of funding, especially with the increase in students applying to CSUs.
“We must maintain price, quality and access for students and if we open up the flood gates despite the cuts, the quality of education would suffer,” Fallis said. “We are just not designed to operate that way.”
The public education system of California could gain a lot if Prop. 30 passes, but some are still wary of whether the government is really going to put those funds where they belong.
John Kabateck, executive director for California at the National Federation of Independent Business, said small businesses have much to lose if the proposition passes.
“With 2.2 million people out of work in this state, small businesses and their employees are already in a world of hurt because of the current situation of the economy,” Kabateck said. “It does nothing to help our schools and does everything to hurt our small businesses.”
Kabateck has two children in the public school system and explained that small businesses have no problem in paying a little more to fund education. According to him, the problem is how the government spends the money, because many of these extra taxes never see the inside of a classroom.
“Politicians in Sacramento have chosen to prioritize other things and could have taken education to number one, but they haven’t. Instead they are using these trigger cuts as a veiled threat to push people to vote for this measure,” Kabateck said. “What Prop. 30 lacks is actual education reform.”
While Prop. 30 is not about reforming the current situation in education, it is aiming to maintain the status quo and keep education afloat, according to Wei Ming Dariotis, president of the SF State chapter of the California Faculty Association.
“It is not going to help resolve the problems we are currently dealing with, but it will give us some breathing room. The cuts would just be devastating,” said Dariotis, who is also an associate professor in Asian American studies. “We’re in a crisis moment in California because we’ve given so much to the prison industrial complex instead of education. It’s quite ridiculous that were spending so much money on that system, I mean, a prison guard in California makes more then a lecturer here at State.”
Dariotis said that students wouldn’t be the only ones to feel the repercussions of trigger cuts if Prop. 30 fails.
“Half of our faculty are lecturers and lecturers are hired from semester to semester, so the cheapest way to offset the loss of funds would be to not rehire them,” she said.
Paul Murre, SF State student and president of the California College Democrats, thinks that Prop. 30 is the way to go.
“The only way to get more money into this system is to raise taxes. Investing in K-12 education will get our economy out of this because the only way you can build human capital is through education,” Murre said. “Pretty much what Prop. 30 comes down to is if students don’t get out there and vote, then they will have to pay more for school and that’s that.”
The article has been revised to correct Marcela Pimentel’s last name. It’s Pimentel, not Pimento. Xpress regrets the error.