Prop. 30 passes, midyear UC tuition increase avoided

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UPDATE: As of Wednesday morning with almost all precincts reporting,  voting results showed Proposition 30 had passed by a significant margin, with 54 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed.

The proposition pulled slightly ahead late Tuesday evening, leading 53 percent to 47 percent with 72 percent of precincts reporting.

“We had a lot of obstacles,” Gov. Jerry Brown said to a crowd of supporters in Sacramento on Tuesday night. “We overcame them.”

The measure — crafted by Brown — will increase the tax rate on the wealthiest Californians and temporarily raise the state sales tax by a quarter of a percentage point.

The tax revenue will be used to fund the state’s K-12 and community college systems and to balance the state budget.

Had voters rejected the initiative, the university would have been dealt a devastating midyear $250 million cut. Students could have faced a midyear tuition increase of up to 20.3 percent.

The passage of the proposition has afforded the University much needed breathing room as it works toward financial stability.

But, it still leaves state funding levels far below ideal.

“(Prop. 30) is just a solution to the urgent problems like tuition hikes,” said Morgan Prentice, a UC Berkeley sophomore. “There needs to be structural changes so that education funding doesn’t keep falling.”

Since 1990, the state’s contribution to the University per student has fallen by over 60 percent. For the first time, in 2011-2012, funds from student tuition and fees exceeded funds to the University from the State.

The possibility of tuition hikes still looms for students at California State University.

By design, Brown’s initiative left the state’s higher education institutions vulnerable to a huge downside risk – the trigger cuts – without much upside.

Bill Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, characterized the measure as “an abhorrent form of political extortion.”

The passage, however, will open the doors to improve the state’s relationship with the University of California.

Prior to the election, the Governor’s office had indicated support for a multi-year agreement to increase state funding to the University by up to 7.5 percent each year if Prop. 30 passed – a deal that could place the University on the path to fiscal stability.

“It’s still a band-aid – tuition is still high,” said ASUC Chief Deputy of National Affairs Nicholas Kitchel. “It’s a band-aid that just prevents that wound from getting larger. It’s our job to build off of the momentum and help students defend themselves in Sacramento.”

Curan Mehra is the lead higher education reporter. Contact him at [email protected].