By Alyssa Sanguinetti and Camille Anglo
Among sounds of beating bongos and thunderous digeridoos, students from across California rallied and chanted “What can Brown do for us? Fund our future!” at the State Capitol for Monday’s March on Education.
Approximately 10,000 students and faculty from California State Universities, Universities of California and community colleges marched from Southside Park in downtown Sacramento to the Capitol to protect higher education. Some of the speakers at the rally included student senator from UC Berkeley Sydney Fang, Speaker of the Assembly John Perez, Sen. Darrell Steinberg and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Newsom said in his speech the cost of higher education is growing at an unsustainable rate, so students have to work hard to keep quality education in California.
“It is incumbent upon us every day to wake up and ask ourselves, ‘What world are we living in?’” Newsom said. “We have to reinvest, we have got to reinvigorate education in the state of California.”
Governmental Relations Chair George Escutia, Jr. said the theme for the rally was to fund the future of students and make college affordable in California.
“We want California to renew its promise for higher education,” Escutia Jr. said. “To roll back the cuts, to reinvest in higher education and to insure the promise of accessibility to education is kept.”
Not only was the rally meant to promote lower cost of tuition, but it also promoted Perez’s Middle Class Scholarship and Steinberg’s Open Source Textbook Act.
“We have to compete; we have to fight to protect Cal Grant for everyone in California,” Perez said in his speech. “For the middle-class families who are getting priced out, we need a solution and that’s why I propose the Middle Class Scholarship.”
If passed, the scholarship should reduce fees at UCs by $8,200 a year, CSUs by $4,000 a year and will send $150 million to California Community colleges. The Open Source Textbook Act would also lower the cost of educational materials for students.
“We’re also supportive of Senator Steinberg’s Open Source Textbook Act, which would produce 50 of the widely used textbooks for free on a digital domain so students can use it,” Escutia said. “If you wanted to print it, it would be $25 and it would make textbook publishers donate three copies of every textbook for college libraries.”
San Francisco State University photography student Joshua Ian said the issues happening now will affect the future of California students.
“It’s not just our generation that’s going to suffer,” Ian said. “It’s generations coming after us and it’s all layering up.”
When he is not making political statements through his art, Ian is working with protest groups in Los Angeles, Pasadena City College, Los Angeles City College, UCLA and San Francisco State.
“I think (protests on higher education) have just been getting bigger and bigger and people are really getting involved,” Ian said. “People that I saw that weren’t as willing before have dropped everything they’re doing and hopped out there. “
Ian said he is hopeful the awareness of the cause for education is growing among students.
“It’s showing how much this is impacting us by how many people are starting to change now,” Ian said. “We’re going to make that change happen; we’re going to make it possible.”
Fang said in her speech there is a diverse spectrum of students who have been affected by the towering costs of education.
“Budget cuts and fee increases have made it harder and harder for low-income students of color to pursue higher education,” Fang said. “Regardless of our background, we all have been wounded by these cuts.”
Chabot College English literature student Karina Contreras has been affected by tuition hikes like many other students.
“A lot of these budget cuts mean less sources, less help for (students) and less money,” Contreras said. “I come from a low-income family, so this is really hindering me as well.”
Vice President of external affairs at San Francisco State Yesenia Martinez said even though these events happen annually, students are trying to change their future and will continue to do so.
“I feel like these rallies happen every year, but at least we leave knowing that our voices have been heard,” Martinez said. “I think the Occupy fellas will hold it down for the students who couldn’t be here.”
Contreras also said these protests have potential to create the kind of change students are looking for.
“It starts as baby steps that can lead to something big,” Contreras said. “Look at the revolution in Egypt and India. It all starts small.”
Sacramento City College student Octavio Plascenci said the cost of college hinders people because the tuition is out of their means.
“I know a lot of people that actually tell me ‘I don’t go to college because it’s too expensive and I can’t afford it’,” Plascenci said. “They just drop out afterwards.”
Every college student in California is entitled to an education because they deserve higher and affordable education, Fang said in her speech.
“Education is a right, not a privilege,” Fang said. “In my four years at UC Berkeley, I’ve seen my tuition go up 130 percent. Enough is enough.”
Protestors, number in the thousands, gather in front of the capitol building in Sacramento.
By Veronica Reynolds
In addition to rallies and marches that involved thousands of protesters, extensive student lobbying during the March 5 demonstrations in Sacramento Monday aimed to convince legislators to support bills to increase funding for higher education.
While some protesters chose to occupy the Capitol building to draw attention to declining state support for public universities, others chose to approach legislators to swing votes toward legislation such as a plan to decrease college tuition for middle-class families.
Should voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax initiative in November, the UC system will see its budget slashed by an additional $200 million. In a statement Monday, Brown cited the initiative as “imperative” for addressing the needs of public universities.
“The students today are reflecting the frustrations of millions of Californians who have seen their public schools and universities eroded year after year,” Brown said in the statement. “That’s why it’s imperative that we get more tax revenue this November.”
Key aims of student organizations that were lobbying Monday included garnering support for the Middle Class Scholarship Plan announced Feb. 8 by state Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles — legislation that would slash tuition and fees for students whose families make less than $150,000 a year by two-thirds — as well as AB 970, the Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act, according to UC Student Association President Claudia Magana.
“We’re lobbying almost every legislator,” she said. “There’s a few we don’t have meetings with, and we’re going to do walk-in visits for people we don’t have appointments with.”
In a phone interview with The Daily Californian during Monday’s protest, state Assemblymember and chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee Marty Block, D-San Diego, said student involvement might swing key Republican votes toward supporting higher education legislation but cautioned against occupying the Capitol building.
“I fear that any kind of occupying the building will be extremely counterproductive,” he said. “It will turn off my Republican colleagues and make them less likely to vote for funding for higher education.”
UC Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein agreed, stating that he did not want “the actions of a few people” to distract legislators from students’ lobbying efforts.
California's middle-class families have suffered greatly during these difficult economic times. Middle-class parents are struggling to stay in their jobs, keep their homes and ensure that their children have opportunities to succeed in life.
Restoring prosperity to the middle class means restoring opportunities for all. That's why I introduced the Middle Class Scholarship Act.
The measure is simple: if you are a student whose family income is too high to receive financial aid but too low to just write a check for college, we will cut your student fees at UC and CSU by two-thirds.
With the Middle Class Scholarship, CSU students will save $4,000 per year – or $16,000 over a four-year period, and UC students will save about $8,200 per year – or nearly $33,000 over a four-year period. Community college students will also see their costs reduced significantly.
The investments that previous generations of Californians made in higher education guaranteed every student who was willing to work hard could earn a place in the California State University or the University of California systems. You didn't have to be rich to tap into the riches higher education has to offer.
Yet the past few years have seen extreme pressures placed on that system. The collapse in the economy has made college education more expensive and less accessible. Massive fee increases have eroded or even ended the dream of higher education for too many students. Since the 2003-04 academic year, CSU fees have increased 191 percent, UC fees have increased 145 percent, and community college student fees have also increased significantly.
It is our generation's duty to reverse that, and to once again ensure access to college for all Californians, particularly those in the increasingly squeezed middle class. Now that the economy appears to be recovering and our budget situation is stabilizing, it is time for our state to reinvest in our system of higher learning.
We pay for this dramatic reduction in the cost of higher education by closing an egregious corporate tax loophole that benefits large out-of-state corporations and was demanded by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of the 2009 budget deal. Ending this corporate loophole giveaway, which had bipartisan support in the Assembly last year, will bring in more than $1 billion for the Middle Class Scholarship – a purpose that will benefit every single Californian.
Families who receive the Middle Class Scholarship will benefit immediately by reducing a huge expense, saving them thousands of dollars that can then be spent elsewhere, which helps our economy overall. California companies benefit from the highly educated and trained workers who will graduate from our public institutions. Everyone can benefit from the entrepreneurship that California graduates pursue, the way we have from the high-tech, biotech and green-tech innovations.
When parents send their children to a CSU or a UC, they are making an investment in their kids' future. California benefits from that investment, and we should take every step we can to ensure that more students have the opportunity to benefit from a higher education.
As Gov. Jerry Brown stated last month, California is clearly on the mend. One of the best ways we can help that mending process continue is by enacting the Middle Class Scholarship, providing substantial relief to middle-class families with children in college. This vital tool will help us rebuild and grow our economy – and redeem the legacy that made California a global powerhouse.
By Matthew Ashman
California State Assembly Speaker John Perez has proposed a new Middle Class Scholarship plan, which could help students at California state colleges pay for school by up to 66 percent.
In order to get the $1 billion needed for this proposal, Perez is trying to void a tax break given to corporations as part of a 2009 agreement to temporarily raise taxes, according to Perez’s statement in a press release.
John Vigna, press secretary for Perez’s office, said they are trying to stem the tide and plan for the next wave of prosperity.
“We are confident that we will get the bill passed,” Vigna said. “It’s a no-brainer using the tax loophole.”
According to Vigna, college tuition has doubled in the last 10 years, making middle-class parents choose economic trade-offs just to try and send their kids to college.
The Middle Class Scholarship plan covers students whose family income is under $150,000 and are ineligible for financial aid, according to Perez’ news release. About 150,000 CSU students and 42,000 UC students would qualify for the scholarship. CSU students will save about $4,000 a year, while UC students will save around $8,200 a year and community college students will see their costs reduced, as well.
Some Republicans think there are other things to concentrate on and are not in favor of the new proposal.
State Sen. Bob Huff, R-Chino Hills, issued a statement saying that Senate Republicans will continue to believe that working together in a bipartisan fashion to solve problems is the best approach. The state should first enact the governor’s pension reforms and balance the state’s budget, said the Senate Republican leader. At that point, the
Legislature can better assess the need for changes in tax policy and higher education.
Representatives from Huff’s office declined further comment.
George Runner, a member of the state Board of Equalization, wrote an editorial that said many out-of-state companies have investments in California and employ millions of Californians and imposing $1 billion in new taxes will tempt these companies to downsize their California presence.
“I don’t think this specific thing is something that would drive away companies,” said Jason Khan, senior at CSUN majoring in CTVA. “There are taxes for many things and this will just add to it.”
Some CSUN students said they are in favor of this new proposal, since money is harder to obtain these days.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Elizabeth Curtis, a CSUN junior studying psychology. “I think a lot of people are classified as that middle-class area, and would benefit greatly from it.”
Because it’s a revenue-generating bill, the state Legislature would need a two-thirds majority in both houses to pass the measure.
Greg Washington, president for the California State Student Association, says this scholarship has the opportunity to benefit a lot of students.
Washington also said students from middle-income backgrounds don’t necessarily have as many ways to obtain money as one might think, since a majority of aid helps lower-income students, and high-income students don’t have as much need.
Until now, financial aid for the state's public college and university students has been based almost entirely on need and was awarded to the least affluent segment of the student population. Students from middle-income families have had little opportunity for tuition relief, and the burden of student loans can weigh on all students for years after they graduate - if they do - which in turn can contribute to keeping the economy in the doldrums.
At last, a financial program that would make higher education significantly more affordable for some middle class Californians may be on the horizon.
The Middle Class Scholarship Program (A.B. 1501), was introduced by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles Feb. 8. If it's passed by the required two-thirds vote of the Legislature - which means some Republican legislators would have to vote with Democrats - it would reduce tuition fees for middle-income families at our state's public colleges and universities by two thirds.
UC and CSU students would fill out standard financial aid forms and those whose families earn less than $150,000 a year would receive a scholarship unless their fees are already covered. Under current rules, families whose incomes don't exceed $80,000 usually qualify for grants. For large families, the income cut-off is higher.
Tuition at the state's public universities has risen by over 200 percent in the last decade. Currently, resident UC undergraduates who carry a normal course load pay about $12,200 a year, not including required fees that can add over $2,500. CSU undergrads pay about $6,000 a year.
The scholarship's tuition cuts would apply to about 42,000 UC students who would save about $8,200 annually, and to about 150,000 CSU students, who would save over $4,000 a year.
Community colleges would also benefit. They would receive $150 million to be spent as each community sees fit.
The beauty of this plan is the way it's to be funded. Currently, out-of-state corporations who do business in California are permitted to select the lower of two tax rates from a formula that includes in-state sales, payroll and property taxes. This tax break was approved in 2009 by a few Republicans who voted for temporary increases on other taxes.
Under the Middle Class Scholarship proposal, the $1 billion that would accrue from rescinding this corporate tax boon would fund the middle-income scholarships).
It's long overdue, but political pundits say not even Gov. Jerry Brown can be counted on to give it strong support because he has his own proposal. (He wants to increase taxes on the wealthiest Californians and levy an additional 1-cent sales tax.)
A survey by the Public Policy Institute of California conducted in November, 2011 shows that 65 percent of California residents are "very concerned about increasing tuition and fees.: Parents of children already in the higher education system are even more concerned (77 percent), as are current students (70 percent).
Regarding affordability, 70 percent of all Californians, cutting across parties, regions and demographic groups, say the high price of college keeps qualified and motivated students from matriculating. Not surprisingly given the economy's downhill slope, it's much harder for young people to pay for college than it was for their parents.
It wasn't always this way. When I emigrated from the East Coast to Altadena with my family in 1968, three things Californian impressed me indelibly - that flowers bloomed in winter, that passersby often smiled at me, and most of all, that California offered a wonderful and inexpensive higher education system. That topped the list because academia was my mecca.
We came West because my husband was accepted a faculty position at Caltech.
In 1977 my daughter, Debra, was ready for college, but there was no thought of private colleges then.
Debra enrolled in Cal State Long Beach, which she chose for its excellent writing curriculum, and three years later, my son, Steven, enrolled at UC Davis, another excellent school. I believe we paid under $150 per semester tuition for Debra and a comparably low amount for Steve.
Now Debra's son and daughter are in private colleges. For Steve's son and daughter, ages 10 and 7, who knows?
Flowers still bloom in winter in Southern California, but not many passersby smile any more.
I hope that will soon change for the better.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) unveiled a new plan to tackle, once again, the single sales factor tax that narrowly avoided repeal last year in a new approach emphasizing education through his Middle Class Scholarship Plan.
The scholarship covers students whose family income is under $150,000 but do not qualify for financial aid.
According to an official statement released from Pérez’s office, the plan would grant $4,000 per year to CSU students, $8,200 to UC students and $150 million to community colleges to reduce student fees.
“The pressures of the recession and massive fee increases have eroded, or even ended, the dream of higher education for too many Californian families. Now it is time for our state to reinvest in our system of higher education. The California Middle Class Scholarship does that by closing a loophole for out-of-state corporations and slashing fees by two-thirds for thousands of California students,” said Pérez in a statement.
That “loophole,” the Single Sales Factor Tax is the chink in the plan that has been a focal point of heated debate in recent years between the Californian Republican and Democratic Party, but, according to Pérez, a potential lucrative fund for education.
Education has seen significant tuition increases in recent years and now faces a tax vote in November that if not passed will result in further educational cuts.
“Since 2003 to 2004, CSU fees have increased 191 percent, UC fees have increased by 145 percent and community colleges have increased significantly,” noted Pérez in his statement. “While higher income students have resources to cover fee increases and lower-income students are eligible for different financial aid grants, middle-income students are often left feeling the brunt of fee increases.”
Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown’s corporate tax package, which included a repeal of the single sales factor tax, passed Assembly with full Democratic support, two Republicans voting in agreement and the rest of the Republican Party voting against. The bill died in Senate with all Republicans and one Democrat voting against and several others abstaining.
Single sales factor tax is an apportionment of corporate income that is assigned to California based on sales within the state and not on the percentage of business done in the state. It can provide a means for multi-state corporations, or corporations that invest in other states than their own, to gain a tax break.
The corporate tax law enacted on January 1, 2011 gave multi-state corporations the selection between calculating their taxes on the sales-only formula or the three-factor formula (sales, payroll and property). Multi-state corporations can choose between which ever one that may give them the greatest tax break.
Republicans supported the measure, passed under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009-10, touting it as a possible job creator in California. Democrats supported the bill at the time but John Vigna, press secretary of Assembly Speaker Pérez, says the circumstance at the time was an unfavorable decision that the Democratic Party was pushed into.
“At the time, [former] Gov. Schwarzenegger wanted to cut into cal grants and state parks and that was something that was unacceptable to us [Democrats] and the price to keep that from happening was to pass the single sales factor tax,” said Vigna.
Democrats now seek to repeal the bill, claiming it to be a corporate tax giveaway that puts in-state companies at a competitive disadvantage against multi-corporations.
Gov. Brown’s tax plan last year included closing the “loophole” and using the funds as sales-tax exemptions to encourage in-state companies to manufacture and provide jobs in California.
Now Pérez hopes to implement a new endeavor by funneling funds created from closing the single sales factor tax, estimated at $1 billion, into an educational scholarship that Vigna confidently believes will pass both the Assembly and Senate.
“I think when more students add their voices to the legislation then Republicans won’t be as fanatically opposed as they may have been before because they want their own kids to have the same opportunities that we had. I think most Republicans will be for this cause because it is an exciting investment for the middle class,” said Vigna.
Republican opponents have not made an official public stance as of yet, but some have already vocalized their opposition to the legislation to The Pioneer, claiming that closing the tax break is the same as raising taxes. Republican Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway is one such opponent.
“Pérez addresses the problem with the wrong solution and she [Connie] would focus on growing the economy to boost higher education. Repealing the tax legislation [single sales factor tax] would result in a tax hike that would hurt our economy which in turn would make it more difficult for recent graduates to find jobs,” said Sabrina Lockhart, press secretary for Conway.
“Businesses and employers lead the state and finding more ways to tax them doesn’t make any sense. The Democrats want to tax corporations where they can’t participate in the Californian economy,” said Mike Spence, chief of staff of Republican Assembly Assistant Minority Floor Leader, Cart Hagman,
“The problem with our tax code is that the Democrats change it every year, so businesses don’t want to invest in California as a result. We are such a heavily taxed state that there is no reason why we shouldn’t give tax breaks.
The taxes are driving employers out of the state which we have been doing since the Democrats have been in control of the Assembly,” said Spence.
Student governments across California have shown their support for Pérez’s legislation from UC Santa Cruz to UC Fullerton to Ohlone College. CSUEB’s Associated Students (ASI) Inc. has not given their official position as of yet but Randy Saffold, executive director, offered some personal opinion.
Saffold shares some concern that if the tax-break is repealed then how will that affect manufacturing jobs in California that may employ the very parents of the students that attend California universities.
“Any money we get to students is a good thing as long as it does not harm students who may be in greater need,” said Saffold.
A new effort to slash tuition by up to 66% for middle class California university students is underway. California Assembly speaker John Pérez proposed a billion-dollar scholarship plan on Feb. 8 that may help middle class students afford college by ensuring out-of-state corporations pay taxes.
In 2009 the state of California gave out-of-state corporations a tax break for helping the state create jobs according to ABC website. Assembly democrats want to rescind the tax break, allowing the state to tax over one billion dollars per year, in order to pay for the Middle Class Scholarship Plan.
"I think it has the potential to increase people's abilities to attend college and that can impact colleges in a number of ways," said Ashley Fantazia (senior, Communications).
Under the plan, families with a household income of $150,000 or less would qualify to save up to $8,100 per year on University of California tuition, or up to $4,000 per year on California State University tuition according Wyatt Buchanan of the San Francisco Chronicle.
"I think it'd be definitely beneficial for me, it could help my life greatly with less stress," said Arianna Kennedy (senior, Psychology). "I would not have to worry about taking out loans. I know that when I first had to, I cried because I thought that I was going to have to be in debt forever."
The plan is designed to help both current and new students with college funding starting in fall. The Middle Class Scholarship Plan needs a two-thirds vote from the California legislature to pass.
"With the collapse of our economy, we've made our colleges and universities more expensive and less accessible," said Assembly Speaker Pérez. "The Middle Class Scholarship Act intends to turn that around."
By Michael Allen
California’s public universities and colleges used to be a bargain for middle-class parents and students.
In addition to their relatively low cost, our UC and CSU campuses have long been considered among the top academic institutions in the nation. They were the ultimate equalizers, enabling good students to attend world-class institutions even if their parents were not wealthy.
But thanks to the protracted national recession and chronic budget shortfalls, costs to attend these schools have risen dramatically over the past decade. Since the 2003-2004 school year, fees at California State University campuses have increased 191 percent; tuition at University of California campuses have increased by 145 percent, while fees for community college students have also gone up significantly.
While low-income students could still rely on Cal Grants and Pell Grants, the middle class was forced to bear the burden of these higher costs. Many families have been forced to turn to student loans to bridge the gap, often through out-of-state lenders. In other instances, these higher costs have served as a deterrent to students who have become convinced that, for them, higher education has become out of reach.
Given the importance of a college education, both to students who will one day enter the job market and to the businesses that will ultimately decide whether or not to hire them, we cannot afford for this trend to continue.
To keep college affordable for all Californians, I am writing legislation with Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and other Democratic members of the state Assembly, to establish the Middle Class Scholarship Act, designed to make college tuition and fees more affordable for middle income families.
The cost of implementing the new Middle Class Scholarship program will be covered by closing a tax loophole that benefits large out-of-state corporations. By exploiting that loophole, which provides unfair tax advantages for companies with property and payroll outside California, they are depriving the state of about $1 billion a year in revenue.
The additional funds generated by closing that onerous loophole will be directed toward tuition and fee assistance. With the Middle Class Scholarship, CSU and UC students will fill out the standard financial aid forms. All students in the CSU and UC systems with family incomes less than $150,000 that do not already have fees covered will receive a Middle Class Scholarship that cuts their costs by two-thirds.
Under this proposal, for the CSU, approximately 150,000 students will receive the Middle Class Scholarship and save more than $4,000 per year. About 42,000 UC students will also receive the Middle Class Scholarship and save up to $8,169 per year. Further, Community Colleges will receive $150 million to expand affordability efforts.
If passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the Middle Class Scholarship Act will ensure that students, graduates and families can keep more of their hard-earned cash and stay out of debt.
This win-win solution for California’s economy is on the horizon, but it needs your help to make it a reality. This effort will require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature, which means some Republican legislators will have to join Democrats in supporting the plan.
Investing in California’s students is an investment in our future. For every $1 we spend on higher education, the state gets a $3 return on its investment. All Californians, including those from middle class families, deserve access to an affordable college education.
Enacting the Middle Class Scholarship Act will take effort. But with enough persuasion from students, parents and all who depend on an educated workforce in California, it can become a reality.
Under a proposed bill by California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, beginning this fall, California students from middle-income families would receive significant tuition breaks that can amount to annual savings of $8,100 for University of California students and $4,000 for California State University students.
Announced on Feb. 8, the new bill would mean that current and new undergraduate students from families with a household income of $150,000 or less would be guaranteed a deduction in their school fees by two-thirds.
This is estimated to cover about 42,000 UC students and 150,000 CSU students during all four years of schooling.
The Middle Class Scholarship would be integral in addressing ongoing tuition hikes and cuts in programs such as Cal Grant, which now primarily caters to families of working-class income, leaving few options for middle class families.
"There are a lot of people in the state that are fortunate enough to pay for their kids' education out of pocket and there are a lot of people who come from a low income background and work their way through high school ... and [are] ensured places in our CSU and UC system through Cal Grant," said Spokesperson to Pérez, John Vigna.
"Cal Grant, like everything else, has been cut and it's hurt some and it is middle class students who have been hurt a lot because of these fee hikes."
With the collapse of the California economy in 2008, college enrollment is accompanied with an egregious amount of debt for students carried on after graduation.
"A student that graduates from college is not looking for the job with the best potential more than a job that will help them pay off way too much debt… A student carrying $25,000 in debt is going to spend an entire decade paying that off… that is simply not feasible for some families," Vigna said.
The program is estimated to cost California $1 billion annually, which would be funded through closing the selected sales factor loophole which allows out-of-state corporations to choose the smaller of two tax breaks on how to calculate taxes that go to the state.
This elimination was part of a 2009 budget deal that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger elicited from Democrats in 2009. The termination of the Cal Grant was also proposed.
"He created this loophole and we want to close it and bring California tax policy in line with states like New York, New Jersey and Texas," Vigna said.
A dedicated fund in the treasurer's office would in turn be established, which will accumulate approximately $1 billion a year.
Last year Gov. Jerry Brown attempted to eliminate the single sales factor. It garnered two Republican votes and passed the Senate.
Sam Mahood is a senior political science and communication double major at UC Davis who has worked with Vigna as the immediate past president of the Davis College Democrats and has served on the California College Democrats' state-wide board. He said the plan is relevant to college students today as it addresses the burden put on middle class students and their families by the rising costs of college.
"Middle class students and their families often don't qualify for financial aid, but still struggle with the burden that the cost of college places on them. Multiple child families, such as mine, are particularly hit with this issue," Mahood said.
Because the bill will require two-thirds of the state legislature to approve it, Mahood encouraged students and their families to contact their representatives and urge them to support this legislation and join groups, such as Davis College Democrats, that will be advocating and lobbying directly on behalf of the bill, as well as urging ASUCD and Lobby Corps to support this legislation on behalf of UC Davis students.
"It is key that elected officials feel the pressure from their constituents to pass the plan," Mahood said.
ASUCD president Adam Thongsavat, who met with Pérez recently and was present during his announcement of the Middle Class Scholarship, said students should not fail in pushing to get the bill passed.
"If we fail to act and mobilize — we collectively pass up a great opportunity to help future students. We need to put pressure on Sacramento and let them know higher education affordability is in crisis and this will slowly reserve that course in the right direction," Thongsavat said. "Students need to fully mobilize behind this bill; it's a great opportunity to flex our muscles and support legislation that will actually alleviate the burden of college tuition for a lot of families."
The plan, which has not been popular among Republicans, seems to be gaining popularity, according to Vigna.
"We believe this isn't really about a tax increase; it's about tax fairness and using money from a giveaway to benefit California's middle class, which ultimately benefits all of California. We're pretty confident that we'll get the Republican votes we need to get it passed in both the assembly and the senate… this is just quite frankly a no-brainer for middle class families," Vigna said.
For many, the scholarship is said to be the determining factor in the decision to progress toward higher education, being that college is not a possibility for all families.
"It really addresses a huge need for support for these families so that students stay in college and also choose to go to college in the first place when their weighing their options," said University of California Student Association (UCSA) president Claudia Magaña.
She encouraged students to start on their own campuses.
"Educate more students on what this bill does so that more people are aware," Magaña said.
The UCSA, a student-run organization that aims to improve the quality and accessibility of the UC, will hold its 10th annual Student Lobby Conference in Sacramento on March 2 to March 5.
"[It will include] students from every UC campus, meeting with every legislator in the whole state, so we are going to be telling them this," Magaña said.
This plan, if passed, is expected to make a dramatic reinvestment in the middle class, according to Vigna.
"Every student from the time they go into kindergarten are told that a college education opens the doors of opportunity… for you to have a successful and prosperous life and we have seen the last several years really undermine that commitment and [Perez] believes that it's time we reaffirm that commitment and start reinvesting back in the middle class."
Vigna encourages all students to go online to get involved in the bills' passing.
"The website has a place where they can upload their own videos talking about some of the difficult choices they had to make to go to college and get them to share their story, and we would love to have every student in the state go there," he said.
A new plan to reduce tuition for middle class students in the CSU and UC systems was unveiled Wednesday by California Assembly Speaker John Perez. The plan would close a $1 billion tax loophole for large businesses.
Perez's program, the California Middle Class Scholarship, gives CSU and UC undergraduate students a two-thirds cutback in tuition if they come from a family with a household income of less than $150,000.
The scholarship would save CSU students about $4,000 a year, or $16,000 over four years, and $8,200 a year, or $33,000 over four years, for a UC student, according to Perez's website.
The plan is contained in two pieces of legislation, according to Perez's website. Assembly Bill (AB) 1500 would close the Single Sales Factor loophole, which allows large, multi-state businesses to avoid paying some taxes. AB 1501 creates the Middle Class Scholarship program that provides the scholarships to students.
Scott Spitzer, Cal State Fullerton political science professor, said he is unsure if Gov. Jerry Brown would support the bill.
"I don't think the governor is going to be against it, but I don't think he's going to throw his weight behind it," said Spitzer.
That is because Brown already has his own tax plan he is pushing for in the November election. Spitzer said his tax plan would increase taxes on the wealthiest Californians (those making more than $250,000) and instate a temporary 1-cent sales tax increase.
California's fiscal problems include an immediate $20 billion budget gap and a long-term business development and infrastructure overhaul, Spitzer said.
But, "investing in education is a very important way to help the economy," Spitzer added.
Spitzer went on to say that Perez's bill would ultimately help the state in the long-run by providing more opportunities for students to stay in college. When students cannot afford increasing tuition costs they must choose to take more student loans or drop out, he said.
"When we educate our state's citizens we're creating a whole new employed workforce that will be actively working in California, paying taxes, helping the businesses and organizations that they work for do better," Spitzer said.
Perez (D-Los Angeles) proposed the legislation to help middle-class Californians who ordinarily would not qualify for financial aid.
In a video for the Middle Class Scholarship, Perez said CSU fees have increased 191 percent and UC fees have increased 145 percent since the 2003-2004 school year.
In just five years, the yearly CSU tuition cost has risen from $3,340 in 2007-2008 to $6,120 in 2011-2012, according to the CSU website.
Spitzer said the CSU system had a $100 million cut last year. One of the ways the system made up for that was by "increasing tuition drastically by close to 30 percent," he said.
These budget cuts encouraged the California Assembly Speaker to promote the two bills.
"Too many families are getting squeezed out of higher education," Perez said according to a transcript on his legislative website.
Jake Morabito, 18, a Spanish major, said in the next two years, two of his five younger siblings will be in college.
"It's going to get really expensive," said Morabito.
Morabito lives in the dorms, adding another expense to his tuition. He received an academic Cal Grant scholarship and said his younger siblings will likely receive one too.
"(The state) needs to make sure that education gets proper funding so that way they can encourage more people like me and my family and (other people in) the middle class to get to college," Morabito said.
A nationwide Pew Research study found that nearly all college graduates (86 percent) found college to be a good personal investment.
"One of the great things about California is we have this extensive, public higher education system that made it possible for millions of Californians who weren't from upper-income families to go and get a good college education," Spitzer said. "Bottom line is higher education costs a lot of money, but it's well worth it."
The Middle Class Scholarship bill will be introduced to the Assembly Wednesday. It will require a two-thirds vote to move to the Senate.
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