New CA Assembly bill could make state public, community colleges tuition-free for resident students

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A state bill that would make California public and community colleges tuition-free for in-state students was introduced Monday.

The bill was announced by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, and was co-authored by Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. If approved, Assembly Bill 1356 would enforce a 1 percent tax on households with incomes of $1 million or higher, according to a press release issued Monday by Eggman. The press release added that this tax revenue would be accumulated in a Higher Education Assistance Fund and that the bill intends to supplement existing aid programs instead of replacing them.

“The cost of sending your kids to college has been rising faster than wages for the great majority of Californians,” Eggman said in the press release. “Too many families … are unable to afford college for their children without taking on massive debt.”

ASUC Senator Anthony Carrasco, who identifies as a low-income first-generation student, said he is strongly for the bill because it will promote an expansion of opportunity.

According to Carrasco, much of the debt that has accumulated among UC Berkeley students is related to paying off living costs. Carrasco said he believes that if this bill passes, UC Berkeley students, specifically in-state students, would see not only a tuition-free campus but also a campus with less housing and food insecurity.

“If (the bill) goes through, after graduation maybe students would have more of a likelihood to leave the Bay Area,” Carrasco said. “Sometimes, students here can’t go across the state or try (a) new job because of the debt burden that they have.”

Campus freshman Megha Torpunuri said in an email that she agreed with the principles behind AB 1356. She added that although the entire basis of public colleges is to ensure that higher education is accessible, she believes students have been “increasingly getting priced out of college.”

Others, however, have expressed contrary viewpoints regarding the feasibility and potential impact of the bill. Campus freshman Yusheng Xia said in an email that he believes AB 1356 would not have a positive impact because it may result in students putting less effort into their education.

“By taking away student investment into their own education and future, you are removing their motivation to achieve and gain the full extent of what they are capable of,” Xia said in his email.

David Leveille, a former visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education, also said he believes that the bill is not practical.

“While the motivation may be appropriate (and) well-intentioned … where’s the commitment and the responsibility of the legislature to fund higher education the way it should be funded?” Leveille said. “There has been a defunding of state support toward the institutions of higher education.”

Contact Ishira Shrivatsa at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @i_shrivatsa.

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  • of course tax the rich is the solution for everything. why should I have to pay for anything that i use and benefit from when I can protest to get others to pay for it?

    • Bee Swarski

      What do you care? You’re not making over a million so stfu.

      • Yeah let’s get people who aren’t us to foot the bill for everything that we want. Such a mature perspective on the world.

        • Bee Swarski

          You’re so concerned about people that don’t give a f*ck about you. So they won’t be able to afford an extra yacht? Oh noooooo! Gtfo.

          You’re more concerned about millionaires being able to afford more sh*t than the underprivileged being able to afford higher education. Real mature.

          • maturity is not expecting everything you want in life paid for by others. Also you’re really mature to be throwing around curse words instead of having a civil discussion.

          • Bee Swarski

            Are you kidding? You believe poor people feel entitled to higher education, and that’s your problem? You’re a f*cking joke.

            I’m not interested in being civil with someone with severe Stockholm Syndrome.

          • that kind of mentality is why people don’t take bernie “make everyone else pay for it” sanders seriously. You people protest when tuition goes up, you people protest when university services are subsequently cut. Talk about wanting to eat your cake and have it too. you might as well ask for it with extra whip cream and a strawberry on top.

  • Doctor J

    Not to mention:
    1. The flood of freeloaders coming to CA
    2. The pressure on expenses to the determinant of qualified teacher retention
    3. The eventual degradation of education and training qualify inherent
    4. A reduction in state revenue while projects like the Orovale Dam and other infrastructure projects are not addressed