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Alice Khosravy: What about the students?

Posted: January 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

In September of 2012, I submitted an article entitled "California’s education tax battle" that discussed the merits of Proposition 30 and 38.

In the article I discussed the fact that there seemed to be no specific language in Proposition 30 that required the taxes collected to go to education.

I received feedback from many supporters of the ballot measure explaining that my statement was incorrect.

I can still remember the TV commercial that featured State Controller John Chiang stating with confidence that "With strict accountability, money must go to the classrooms and can’t be touched by Sacramento politicians."

It ended with Governor Brown surrounded by young school children as he said "For the students, and for California’s future, vote Yes on 30." while the kids cheered. I also remember thinking that ad was very effective and the measure was likely to pass.

Toward the end of the campaign season, threats of tuition hikes if Proposition 30 failed were abundant. Not surprisingly, university students, faculty, and administration groups organized and worked tirelessly to ensure the measure passed. According to The California State Student Association they registered over 17,000 new voters for the November election alone. The Get Out The Vote efforts of the student and teachers organizations were executed with passion and energy and proved successful.

In November, the measure passed and I found myself hoping the supporters were correct. If indeed I have to pay the tax, at least let it go to a worthy cause such as funding education in our state. Just two short months later, it seems that the tax revenue collected will not automatically reach our public colleges and universities.

The budget proposed by Governor Jerry Brown for fiscal year 2013-14 contains a $2.7 billion increase in K-12 funding which is less than half of the $6 billion total expected to be collected. For higher education the budget proposal is a $125 million increase in funding. The catch, it can be eliminated through a majority vote of the legislature because of loopholes in the language of the ballot measure. And what about the remaining balance? Wasn’t that for our students too?

I applaud the Governor’s stated goal of using the money collected to increase and enrich the educational experience of our K-12 and higher education system.

Although I did not vote for Proposition 30 in November, it passed by a clear majority and I accept this.

Now that the voters have spoken, I strongly support their right to have the measure implemented as it was presented during the campaign season.

The tax revenues should go "to the classrooms" without the threat of diversion to the general fund or pet projects by a legislature that has shown an unending appetite for tax dollars.

The good news is that there are members of the legislature who are working hard to ensure that 100 percent of the funding be allocated to our classrooms by writing specific language to protect students.

Assembly Bill 67, introduced by Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell and Co-Authored by local Assemblyman Scott Wilk, and Senate Bill 58, introduced by State Senator Anthony Cannella, contains language which will guarantee the implied promise of Proposition 30 to our community college and university students regarding fee increases. Specifically both bills would freeze tuition and fees for UC, CSU and community colleges at the levels set in the 2011-12 academic year for the seven years that Proposition 30 is in effect. The measures also state the intent of the Legislature to protect higher education funding and make any potential fee increases unnecessary.

Our current political landscape seems overwhelmed with double-deals, backroom deals, and a general disdain for the average citizen. I am proud of that our local Assembly, Scott Wilk, chose to co-author this legislation that attempts to hold our legislature to the promise made to the voters in November 2012. There was indeed an implied commitment with Proposition 30 and I strongly support the legislation to guarantee our students are not short-changed.

Alice Khosravy is a resident of the Santa Clarita Valley.

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