CSULB President F. King Alexander speaks about what the university faces if Prop 30 fails. Photos by Sarah Bennett.
One of the nicer days of late was host to some grim portents as leaders from Long Beach’s three educational bodies held a press conference to outline the dire consequences if the Governor Brown-sponsored Proposition 30 does not pass in November.
Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser, Long Beach City College Superintendent-President Eloy Ortiz Oakley and Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander spoke at the foot of the Walter Pyramid at CSULB Tuesday morning about the financial realities each of their individual educational institutions will be faced with should Proposition 30 fail.
“The primary reason [to host a conference] is we don’t want to get a phone call Nov. 7 telling us ‘we had no idea’,” President Alexander said. “This reduction would knock us to a 37% reduction from the state of California over the next two and a half years. That places us well below state funding levels in states like Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, New Mexico, even North Dakota. That is something that Californians should wake up to, that is something Californian’s should not be proud of. Some would argue that we’ve gone from a state assisted university to a state located university.”
Proposition 30 calls for an income tax increase for earners of over $250,000. Increases to the income tax will last for seven years, and rise incrementally from 1 percent to 3 percent for the top 3 percent of earners in California. In addition to this income tax increase, there is also a sales tax increase by one-quarter of a percent for the next four years.
This proposition is expected to generate $8.5 billion in revenue in the first year, and $5 to $7 billion every year after that. However, the Legislative Analysts Office, a nonpartisan group, have released estimates that are a little less rosy—$6.8 billion. Money received through this tax increase will go directly into the general fund, half of which is required to be spent on public education.
Public education leaders throughout the state say that revenue generated from Prop 30 is crucial for them to continue to offer the level of services that have already been reduced in recent years. Opponents of Proposition 30 cite lack of specific allocation of funds, claiming that the money goes directly into the general fund and there are no guarantees for where it will actually go.
Members of Long Beach City College’s teacher’s union stand with LBCC students in support of Prop 30.
“We know for certain where the money is not going to go, if the Proposition fails. That is the only thing that we know,” LBCC’s Oakely said. “We will educate over 1300 less students, we will lay off numerous numbers of employees, that we know. Now one could speculate whether or not the money is going to go into the classroom if the proposition passes, but all I can speak to is what we know. And that is what is in the budget act, what we know the cuts will be to our systems, and the impact to our system.”
While the exact numbers are made up of hopes and estimates at this point, the message the Long Beach education leaders wanted to send was clear: The failure of Proposition 30 will be disastrous.
“[CSULB] will lose $800 per student, knocking down our per student state spending to about $3500 per student,” Alexander said. “Now that may not mean much to you, but the national average is $7200. And all three of these institutions, K-12, through city colleges and CSULB are well below national averages in student spending. We will also have to cut nearly 2000 classes and an additional 2000 students will not get access in the fall. This is particularly relevant to an institution that received nearly 78,000 applications for Fall 2012.”
Complicating matters even further for voters is the presence of Proposition 38, a counter-proposal to Gov. Brown’s initiative which was not discussed during the press conference. Proposition 38 also calls for an increase of income tax, except across the board for earners of over $7,316, and is thought to be in competition with Proposition 30 as it promises all of the money will bypass legislative bodies and go directly towards education.
While Alexander, Steinhauser, Oakley and Garcia would not comment on the idea of choosing sides, for or against either Proposition, Steve Glazer, Gov. Brown’s political strategist, asserts that it is more likely that neither Proposition will pass when voters are optioned with either choice. If both propositions pass, however, the one with the higher percentage of votes will prevail.
No matter what happens in November, the future situation for students could be even more dire than it is right now.
To learn more about all of the California propositions on this November’s ballot, Voter’s Edge has great comprehensive coverage.
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