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Vote 'yes' on Proposition 30

Posted: November 2, 2012 4:00 a.m.
Updated: November 2, 2012 4:00 a.m.

In the past four years, public education in California has been cut by more than $20 billion, class sizes have soared at all grade levels, and more than 40,000 professional educators have been laid off.

State college and university fees have increased over 300 percent, causing many students to be cut out of their dream of a college education completely.

Across our state, existing college students are having difficulties enrolling in the classes they need to complete their degrees.

At the same time, the California budget has suffered cuts, as well in public safety programs like support for seniors, disabled and low- and middle-income residents’ health coverage, child care, and welfare-to-work programs.

If Californians fail to pass a tax initiative on Nov. 6, we face a $9 billion budget deficit and about $5 billion in “trigger” cuts that will severely affect our schools. We need to pass a tax initiative now and stop the cuts to public education in our state.

Sadly, California is now 47th in per-pupil spending in the United States.

Proposition 30, The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012, was put on the November ballot by our state Legislature at Gov. Jerry Brown’s request to generate about $6 billion in annual revenue from 2012-13 through 2016-17.

It will do this by increasing the personal state income tax on individuals earning more than $250,000 per year ($500,000 per year if filing jointly) between 1 percent and 3 percent for seven years based on income, along with a 0.25 percent sales tax increase for four years.

If approved by voters, it will generate additional revenues to help balance the state budget through 2018-19. If rejected by voters, it reduces the 2012-13 budget by $6 billion and will impact K-12 schools and the California Community College system severely, including College of the Canyons.

At the community college level, this translates into a $338 million cut and 180,000 students in the state turned away from their college dreams.

The California Community Colleges have already experienced three straight years of budget cuts, equal to 12 percent of their total budget.

If Proposition 30 fails and the trigger cuts are enacted, another 8 percent would be cut from the community colleges, for a total of 20 percent cut since 2008-09.

The only way our state colleges can accommodate these cuts is to cut course sections. This has resulted in a reduction of 500,000 students since 2008-2009 in a time when the high school graduating classes of the state have been the largest in the state’s history.

Many of these students have nowhere to go now to continue their education. This lack of access is the biggest issue facing higher education in California.

The only initiative on the ballot that addresses this problem is Proposition 30. A competing tax measure, Proposition 38, generates funds only to K-12 education and no money for community colleges if it passes.

If both measures pass, the one with the most votes is initiated and the other initiative dies.

College of the Canyons has suffered funding cuts of $16.4 million from the state since 2008-09, from $80.4 million to $64 million. Because of these cuts, the number of full-time students we serve has dropped 20 percent from 16,603 to 12,970.

At College of the Canyons, our Board of Trustees approved a 2012-13 budget that assumed Proposition 30 would not pass and that $4.6 million in revenue from Proposition 30 would not be available from the state.

Our trustees understand how important Proposition 30 is to our students and our college and recently approved a resolution by a 4-1 vote to support it.

The Associated Students of College and the Colleges and the full-time and part-time faculty associations have also endorsed Proposition 30, as well as the Classified Employees Association.

These funds are needed by the college to reinstate lost class sections and serve the students cut out of an education. Students need access to these additional classes to continue their educations beyond high school, including returning students who have lost their jobs due to the recession and veterans and active military students expecting to continue their educations at our college.

We must fund the California Community College system because it is the best way to invest in California’s future. Students who are highly educated get good jobs and pay taxes back to the state.

A recent study from the University of California found that for every dollar invested in higher education, a return of $4.50 comes back to our state over the student’s career.

It is time now for voters to re-evaluate how California funds public education and other essential public services and demand that all California public school students have an equal and fair opportunity to enrich their futures though education.

For these reasons and for the Santa Clarita community at large, please support Proposition 30 when you vote Nov. 6.

Vincent Devlahovich is an instructor at College of the Canyons and president of the COC Faculty Association.




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