Passage of Prop. 30 presents opportunity for multiyear funding plan with state

A sign in favor of Proposition 30 is held high during a rally at Sproul Plaza on November 5th.
Dean Ignacio/File
A sign in favor of Proposition 30 is held high during a rally at Sproul Plaza on November 5th.

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Given Proposition 30’s passage Tuesday, University of California stakeholders have been given a momentary reprieve from the threat of a $250 million midyear cut as well as a chance to attempt to ensure that the immediate financial stability of the university does not face such a situation again.

Prop. 30 passed with 54 percent of the vote Tuesday, gaining traction late in the night after preliminary vote counts showed the measure failing. Because the passage could signify the beginning stages of a multiyear funding plan between the university and Sacramento, administrators say that this is a chance for California to reinvest in a system that has seen a more than 20 percent decline in state funds since 2007.

It is clear that the proposition will not be the “magic solution,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein, who added that it “provides some breathing space.”

Although the passage still leaves state funding levels far below ideal, the multiyear agreement could increase state funding to the university by up to 7.5 percent each year.

Next week, the UC Board of Regents will vote on a proposed UC budget to submit to the state, which proposes a 6 percent increase in state funding for the 2013-14 academic year in addition to the $125.4 million the university could receive from the state as a result of Prop. 30 passing.

Beginning in January, Prop. 30 will temporarily increase the income tax on Californians making more than $250,000 annually and the state sales tax by a quarter of a percentage point. It is expected to generate an additional $6 billion in tax revenue for the state annually.

“It was definitely scary when a lot of the precincts still weren’t in,” said UC Berkeley sophomore Brittany Cliffe, a member of CalDems who campaigned for the proposition. Cliffe said that the support from students across the state was crucial to the measure’s passage.

Matt Haney, executive director of the UC Student Association — which led efforts to register students to vote — said he could not be happier with the proposition’s passage but admits that there is still much to be done.

“The reality is that the funding crisis remains,” Haney said.

Still, others remain skeptical of relying on the voter-approved measure for funding in the future. Although the measure protects schools from immediate cuts and increases revenue for education funding, there is no specific set-asides for higher education, they argue.

“Students are seriously misguided if they believe any of these additional tax revenues will go toward prioritizing public higher education in California,” said Shawn Lewis, executive director of the Berkeley College Republicans.

The ongoing debate over whether the state is prioritizing public higher education in California is one that inspired a theme of the campaign for the measure as one that protects schools and invests in future generations. Many student organizations across the state called on young voters to save California’s public higher education institutions.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi, whose office also led campuswide voter registration efforts, said that Tuesday’s results illustrated students’ ability to successfully achieve a common goal.

UC Berkeley senior Miguel Duarte said that while he was supportive of the measure, he felt the state Legislature should have allocated funds to the public higher education systems earlier. The proposition, he said, was used as a threat against the future.

“It was a cynical option — to raise taxes on the rich or make our children suffer,” he said.

Contact Alex Berryhill at [email protected].

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that a multiyear agreement between the UC and state will increase state funding to the university by up to 7.5 percent each year. In fact, that increase is still being negotiated.

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  • AnOski

    Raising taxes under the guise of paying for a given cause is simply misleading. State taxes go to only one place — the state. If taxes are being raised for “public safety and education” (per Prop. 30), it could mean…well, a few things:

    The state will no longer have to set aside money that is currently being put into education — for education. A separate tax fund (Prop. 30) will allow the money that used to be set aside for the UC’s to go elsewhere while Prop. 30 covers that aspect of education. In this case, overall state funding for the UC system could drastically increase *or* decrease, because the net funding for the UC’s could now come from one or both sources (‘regular taxes’ or Prop. 30).

    The state could also use the money from Prop. 30 to cover other costs such as police, firefighters, or anything else related to “public safety,” per the language of the proposition. In this case, state-given UC funding could either increase or decrease at their discretion.

    Long story short, Prop. 30 has no inherent effect on UC funding, except that Brown threatened us with trigger cuts in order to get it passed. In other words, he singled out us students and threatened us with a fee hike if we didn’t vote to raise taxes. There was no reason to tie a threat of trigger cuts to Prop. 30’s passage or failure. In singling out the UC system Brown might as well have stated that he values education less than anything else, because he didn’t threaten anyone else with drastic cuts should the bill have failed. Brown gambled with the fate of our education as he gambled with nothing else.

  • I_h8_disqus

    Is someone actually on the side of the debate that says the state is prioritizing public higher education? Just the fact that Prop. 30 specifically excluded mention of any higher education other than the community colleges should indicate that governor Brown isn’t putting the UC as a priority. He does like to threaten us unless we vote for funding he does prioritize, but he doesn’t show that he supports us.

  • Calipenguin

    I’m glad the DC is citing a Republican more often to balance the points of view. One correction: Prop 30 increases sales taxes on Jan. 1 2013, but the income tax hike is retroactive to Jan. 1 2012. Anyone planning to buy expensive taxable items should probably get it in Reno or the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe during a ski trip.