With post-election fervor running high, UC student regents Jonathan Stein and Cinthia Flores held a presentation at the UCR on Nov.8. As part of a systemwide tour, the student regents met students and discussed Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, which passed with a 54 to 46 percent margin just two days prior.
“It was the beginning of meaningful reinvestment of our education or it was the beginning of the end for the UC,” stated Stein when identifying the overall impact of Prop 30’s passage.
Proposition 30, the November tax measure, will halt a $250 million cut in funding and provide an additional allocation of a $125 million tuition buyout for the 2012-2013 academic year. To offset the costs, California sales tax will increase by one-quarter cent for four years and taxpayers making over $250,000 will experience higher income taxes for seven years.
As a one-year funding commitment, Prop 30 does not prevent future tuition increases, but has led to greater wiggle room for other budgetary options and greater discussions of a multi-year funding model for the UC system.
“If Prop 30 had failed it would have sent a message to our state lawmakers that California is okay with their defunding of the UC system and they can continue it,” said Stein in an interview with the Highlander. “Passing Prop 30 means that we not only not go down that road [of privatization] but we begin to reinvest state dollars in the UC and begin to rebuild what we lost over these three, four or five years.”
With general state funding at 11 percent, the UC student regents argue that tuition has
tripled from $4,000 to $13,000 in the last decade alone, compared to the previous 40 years—a period where tuition faced only an incremental increase of $3,000 to $4,000.
On average, Stein states that the UC system provides Federal Pell Grants to nearly half of all undergraduates, compared to the assistance offered by private campuses. “We are an engine of social and economic mobility in the University of California, in a way that all of these [private] schools are totally not,” he said.
On Election Day, the younger demographic made up 28 percent of all California voters, revealed a CNN exit poll, and 65 percent of them voted yes on Prop 30. Recent trends reveal that young voter turnout has increased throughout the past few elections.
“Were it not for that high number of the electorate that was between 18-29, there is arguably no way that Proposition 30 would have passed…[this election] was a true indicator of not only students going out to vote but young people going out to vote,” noted Flores.“I think we’ve been able to demonstrate and we’ve actually flexed our political muscle during this election and in particular with this proposition. I think we’re at a very critical time in which student leaders in every capacity [on] their campuses really need to nurture this sense of political activism…” She also remarked on a perceptible paradigm shift towards student-faculty collaboration as a result of Prop 30.
For the Board of Regents, other budgetary measures up for consideration include raising the cap from 10 percent to 15-20 percent on out-of-state enrollment. Opponents argue that this may adversely affect socioeconomic and ethnic diversity. An alternative option includes encouraging outside sources to fund return-to-aid instead of student tuition, in which a third goes directly to fund financial aid.
“It is gratifying to know that Californians value the impact of public higher education, its students, faculty and staff. This is a victory not just for UC, but for our entire state,” stated Chancellor Tim White in a special weekly letter. On Nov. 7, UC President Mark Yudof and the Board of Regents signed a letter, which commemorated the passage of Prop 30.
Based on the current state funding trends, an estimated $2.4 billion deficit to the UC budget is predicted to occur in 2015-16. The UC student regents vocally encouraged the need for greater and continued political activism amongst the student population, who largely contributed to the passage of Prop 30.
“I think it was invigorating for students to hear how much of an influence we can have on the decisions being made,” stated UCR CALPIRG organizer Morgan Colbertson, “[Students] need to be organizing equally as strong. I think we need to push forward and make it a sustainable thing. But it was encouraging. I’m really glad that Proposition 30 passed,” she said.