Student leaders at the UC, CSU and statewide community colleges called on their respective institutions Wednesday to boycott products manufactured or supplied by out-of-state corporations opposed to the Middle Class Scholarship Act.
The act — which is composed of Assembly Bills 1500 and 1501 — was introduced by California Assembly Speaker John A. Perez. If passed, fees for middle-class students could be cut by two-thirds for UC and CSU students, and would also be reduced at the California Community Colleges.
The scholarship would be funded by AB 1500, which would close the single sales factor tax loophole, a law allowing out-of-state corporations to choose their tax rate. According to Perez, the law currently drains $1 billion out of California every year. AB 1501 would allocate the funds from AB 1500 to the Middle Class Scholarship Act.
Darius Kemp, director of communications and organizing for the UC Student Association, said the UCSA, California State Student Association and Student Senate for California Community Colleges began the process of voicing their concerns to their respective campus leaders and the public in February, when the legislation was initially introduced.
“Every Californian should be aware to the undue influence that these corporations hold over the people of California,” Kemp said. “They aren’t doing what’s in the best interest of the people, they’re doing what’s best for their shareholders.”
According to a UCSA press release, large corporations are banding together to oppose the acts, with Kimberly-Clark, Proctor and Gamble, International Paper, Chrysler and General Motors at the lead. Their coalition, California Employers Against Higher Taxes, argues that the act would discourage companies from investing in California due to significant tax increases, which may force companies to cut jobs, according to its website. However, student leaders continue to support the acts as well as the boycott.
“It makes no sense that these out-of-state corporations are allowed to choose lower tax rates when they should be paying a uniform rate,” said Joey Freeman, ASUC external affairs vice president. “This legislation is not only good for students but also represents a major investment in our economic growth.”
Freeman, along with other ASUC members, participated in a rally May 1 in Sacramento, where they testified on behalf of the bill in the Assembly Higher Education Committee, where it passed unanimously. According to Freeman, the bill will now go to the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on Monday.
Recently, UC Berkeley has developed its own method for assisting students whose parents make $80,000 to $140,000 annually. The Berkeley Middle Class Access Plan, which will come into effect for the 2012-13 academic year, will cap parent contribution at 15 percent of their total gross income.
Jessica Rossoni covers higher education.