Student Regents Hold Prop. 30 and Budget Presentation

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Just five days from the election, about 16 students gathered at Barrows Hall Thursday evening to hear a presentation by the UC student regents about the effects of Proposition 30, a ballot measure that could prevent a 20 percent tuition hike in January, on the UC’s budget.

At the presentation, Jonathan Stein, the student regent, and Cinthia Flores, the student regent-designate, emphasized the importance of students voting in the upcoming election to prevent $250 million in midyear budget cuts to the UC.

“The next five days are our opportunity to change the future of the university of California,” Stein said. “No pressure, but literally that’s what’s at stake.”

If passed, Prop. 30 would temporarily increase the state sales tax by a quarter percentage point and the incomes tax on Californians earning more than $250,000 annually. The measure would prevent close to $6 billion in cuts to the state’s public education institutions and safety services, $375 million of which would otherwise be cut from the UC over the next two fiscal years.

To make up for lost funding if the measure fails, the UC Board of Regents will likely vote to raise tuition by up to 20.3 percent, or about $2,400, beginning in January. Additionally, student tuition could be close to $24,000  by the 2015-2016 academic year, according to the presentation.

“That doesn’t just blow the roof off of public school tuition in California. That blows the roof off of public school tuition in the United States,” Stein said. “We would be traumatically altering the landscape of public higher education in this country.”

A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that 70 percent of voters between ages 18 and 34 support Prop. 30, but make up only 18 percent of the state’s likely voters. Because of historically low student voter turnout during elections, Stein and Flores said the measure could pass if students vote at the Nov. 6 election.

However, some UC students still remain unaware of the proposition. A poll by the Daily Bruin and UCLA Department of Statistics showed that about 58 percent of UCLA students surveyed were not familiar with the proposition.

“I don’t think many people know about it,” said Jessica Yu, a UC Berkeley junior. “If it’s not about the presidency, it (seems) less important.”

Still, Flores and Stein emphasized that the ballot measure is a chance for students to be proactive in affecting the UC’s financial state, rather than react to proposed tuition increases with demonstrations and protests. UC student tuition has more-than tripled since 2000 due to decreased state funding, which made up about 11 percent of the UC’s operating budget in last fiscal year. In the 2011-2012 academic year, student fees brought in more revenue for the system than state funding for the first time in the system’s history.

Flores and Stein said that efforts to support the proposition, recent tuition increases and  future measures taken by the UC to combat the decreased state funding are still only temporary fixes to a larger problem.

“All of the budget options are band-aids on a much, much larger wound,” Stein said. “None of them will stop the bleeding like real meaningful investment in public higher education which we stopped doing a couple years back and we need to begin doing again.”

Contact Gladys Rosario at [email protected]