Division over Proposition 55, funding for education

According to a study done by the Public Policy Institute of California, by 2025 California will need one million more college educated workers.

For the California Faculty Association (CFA), the endorsement of Proposition 55 is seen as a major advantage if these findings do in fact become reality.

The California Faculty Association, which represents more than 26,000 tenured and tenure-track instructional faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches on the 23 campuses of the California State University system has come out in support of Proposition 55, the California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act, would extend by 12 years the increased taxation of California residents with incomes over $250,000 to fund education, in public K-12 schools and community colleges, as well as healthcare.

The measure is facing stiff opposition from business groups and newspapers across the state.

According to CFA President Jennifer Eagan, the California State University system could lose close to $250 million from its base budget if Proposition 55 is defeated. 

“We are endorsing Prop. 55 because of the good it does for higher public education in California,” said Eagan. “It would free up money from the general fund to free up other needs such as funding the CSU.”

As stated by Eagan, it’s estimated that $4 to $9 billion in revenue would be generated annually, with 89 percent of that going to K-12 schools and the other 11 percent going to community colleges. In addition, the Cal State system received 17.7 percent less from the state than it did in the 2007-2008 school year, even though 13.5 percent more students are in the Cal State system.

“The CSU can not afford to lose that funding,” said Eagan. “The state’s disinvestment in the CSU over the past decade has taken a terrible toll on our system and it has still not fully recovered.”

Prop. 55 is an extension of Prop. 30, an income tax approved in 2012, which increased California’s sales tax while also imposing income taxes on incomes of $250,000 or more. Prop. 55 would not extend the 3.45 percent sales tax increase but would keep the income tax initiative until 2028.

The Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle have all written editorials opposing Proposition 55.

The Los Angeles Times said that extending the income tax, but not the sales tax was, “bad planning, bad thinking, bad budgeting and cowardly politics.

In regards to Prop. 55, the San Diego Tribune states California public schools already get most of the state funding under Prop. 98 in a system where, “California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers are valued far more than the interests of students.”

The San Francisco Chronicle notes its lack of confidence on the reliance of the state’s school funding to come from the the wealthiest California residentss.

The LA Times said, “A tax structure that depends too heavily on a small group of people, however wealthy they may be, also presents an insidious social and political problem.”

Eagan, in response to the opposition, said she understands a long-term plan may need to be put in place to help with school funding, but believes Prop. 55 is a necessary step.

“Our students deserve better than this,” said Eagan. “They don’t deserve to go back to the days of budget cuts, large class sizes, and understaffing.”

California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon believes Prop. 55 is benefical for the cal State system.

“The CSU system is the largest public university system in the country and is respected for its quality of education and graduates,” said Rendon. “The CSU budget is funded by the general fund and if we have to cut overall spending it will certainly affect the whole system.”

Oct. 24 is the last day to register and Election Day is Nov. 8.