The ASUC Senate entered California’s political fray Wednesday night when it unanimously endorsed Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed sales and income tax increase that aims to stave off further funding cuts to higher education.
Despite its unanimous approval by all senators present at the meeting, a previous version the bill — SB 11 — drew complaints for intending to encourage students to vote in favor of the proposition. A revised version passed by the senate Wednesday dictates that the ASUC will educate the student body about Prop. 30 rather than encourage it to vote for it.
Prop. 30 proposes temporary tax increases for Californians that are estimated to raise up to $8 billion in additional annual state revenue. According to an analysis of Prop. 30 by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, if the measure is rejected, $6 billion would be cut from the state budget, largely targeting schools and community colleges, the UC and the CSU.
It is estimated that the university would lose $250 million this year and that UC Berkeley would incur a $50 million budget cut, meaning students would likely face a midyear tuition increase of up to 20 percent.
Because of the unanimous nature of the bill’s passage, some students expressed a concern that the diversity of student opinion was not fairly represented by the senators.
Shawn Lewis, executive director of the Berkeley College Republicans, criticized senators for voting unanimously on an issue that he said many students may disagree on.
“I see this as a failure by the senators to reach out and hear other viewpoints,” Lewis said. “They had said they would try to include other views, but I haven’t seen that. I’m not surprised.”
Senator Klein Lieu, who authored the bill, rejected the idea that senators had misrepresented the campus community and said the senate speaks on behalf of all students. He emphasized the importance of the ASUC’s endorsement and the impact the election will have on the future of the university.
“I truly believe with all my heart that the legacy of one of the most daring hallmarks of our state is currently under attack,” he said in an email.
ASUC External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi stressed the nonpartisan nature of the endorsement of Prop. 30.
“The majority of the people who understand these issues understand that if Prop. 30 fails, it will make things very, very difficult,” he said. “I want to stress that everyone worked on the bill across party lines.”
Multiple students groups were present in support of SB 11 at the senate meeting Wednesday, including the Asian Pacific Islander Recruitment and Retention Center group REACH and the Cal Berkeley Democrats. No opposition parties were present.
The UC Board of Regents officially endorsed Prop. 30 in July.