Gov. Jerry Brown launches the campaign
Gov. Jerry Brown took to the campaign trail even before Labor Day to stump for Proposition 30, the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act, which will prevent deep cuts to colleges and schools this year.
During appearances in Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego and Hawthorne, the governor joined faculty, teachers, school employees, parents and students to urge voters to support the funding initiative.
Half a billion from colleges
“If we cannot pass Prop. 30, we are taking a half billion out of our colleges and universities and $5½ billion out of our schools. It doesn’t make sense,” the governor said in his remarks in front of New Technology High School in Sacramento.
“This is the most critical issue on the ballot this November, other than the presidency itself,” he said, “because it’s about the future, it’s about our kids and it’s about whether California, as a democracy, can make a public decision for our schools and take this responsibility that for at least the better part of a decade has been shirked.”
Although there is another funding initiative on the ballot, Prop. 38, it will not provide any funding for higher education.
“We want our members to be sure they know that when they go to the polls,” said CCA Vice President Lynette Nyaggah. “Only Prop. 30 helps out community colleges, CSU and UC, along with K-12.”
Representing community college faculty at the campaign launch event in Sacramento was Linda Sneed, a part-time English instructor at nearby Cosumnes River College in South Sacramento.
Students shut out
“Over the past few years, I have seen dedicated, passionate community college instructors disappear from our campuses because of budget cuts. Students trying to earn their associate’s degree or complete their first two years of a four-year bachelor’s degree at our colleges have been effectively shut out of our system,” Sneed said.
“We can’t abandon or betray the hundreds of thousands of students and the thousands of staff who work so hard every day to support their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families, driving them away from college or into the hands of private, for-profit institutions that will saddle them with years, perhaps decades, of debt,” she said.
Proposition 30 provides billions in new funding by asking the wealthiest in California to pay their fair share to keep classrooms open and police on the street. All tax increases are temporary and all money goes into a special account that the Legislature can’t touch, requiring annual audits with strict accountability. If Prop. 30 fails, public schools and colleges will be cut by another $6 billion this year, including an additional $300 million from the California community college system’s $3.7 billion budget.
Due to budget cuts, enrollment throughout the community college system has decreased by more than 485,000 students since 2008.
Prevents mid-year cuts
“If Proposition 30 fails, local colleges face even more dramatic cuts in the middle of the academic year,” said Community College Chancellor Jack Scott.
Funding for community colleges has been cut $809 million, or 12 percent, over the past three years. Colleges face another $338 million cut in January if Proposition 30 does not pass. Scott also noted that from 2008-09 to 2011-12, course sections (classes) have declined nearly 24 percent system-wide.
Under Prop. 30, only the highest earners, couples making more than $500,000 pay more income tax. A quarter -cent increase in the sales tax rate will still result in consumers paying less sales tax than they have in the past few years. The income tax increase will expire in seven years and the sales tax rate increase expires in four years.
The governor is hopeful that California’s highest income earners will support the initiative.
“I’ve gone throughout California and asked people if I could give you a salary next year of $1 million, would you be willing to pay another $4,500 in taxes?” Brown said. “I’ve not met one person who would turn down that deal.”
As governor, Brown said he wants to make sure the voters understand the stakes. “The people will decide, and whatever they decide, I will carry out, but my preference, my strong recommendation is yes on 30 for California.”