Tax initiative can help stop budget cuts

CN/ Kien Ha

Editorial

Students at East Los Angeles College have seen rising unit fees, new registration restrictions, and now a $5-9 million reduction to the 2012-13 budget.

Additionally, the state has increased the cost to attend Cal State and University of California and added limitations on Cal Grants, and the punches keep coming. Specifically, the changes that await ELAC students are significant. In fact, out of the nine Los Angeles Community College District schools, ELAC is likely to be the most affected.

Students registering for the fall semester have encountered a sea of red lines swooping through course numbers, indicating the many cancelled classes. About 395 sections have been cut for fall alone.

In response to these cuts and grievances, Governor Jerry Brown met with the California Federation of Teachers to propose a tax initiative for November. Popularly called the “millionaire’s tax,” the increase will specifically target wealthy individuals making over $250,000 per year for seven years and implementing a one-fourth cent increase on sales. The expected revenue for the first year is $9 billion, somewhat settling the state’s $15.7 billion shortfall.

It is likely that most Elan families will never see an increase in their taxes, as the median income in Monterey Park is $55,210. If this tax initiative passes on the November ballot, it could mean the road to recovery for college budgets and regulation over fees and budgets.

OK, now comes the difficult part: Students have to vote for it. Gov. Jerry Brown actually took college students into consideration when drafting a solution to the state’s overwhelming deficit. Instead of raising tuition fees yet again for college students, he wanted to do the least amount of damage to the middle and lower classes.

If the tax initiative does not pass, a $6 million automatic spending cut will go into effect, most likely targeting education, and Elans will have to suffer fewer classes in the near future. One of the reasons why education suffers the harshest cuts in times of fiscal hardship is because students do not vote.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 21.3 percent of registered voters ages 18-24 actually voted in November 2010. From this college demographic, 58.8 percent didn’t vote, and 33.4 percent aren’t registered to vote.

If the majority of college students don’t take the time to voice their opinions on the ballot, where it will count, then these grievances will not be resolved. Conversely, from the overall population aged 45-64 making over $150,000 a year, 71.5 percent voted, and that figure rose to 72.3 percent for ages 65-74.

So guess whose voices are getting heard? Or a better question might be, whose voices aren’t getting heard? If students cannot go vote in person, they can send the ballots by mail.

Most importantly, students need to talk to their family and friends to give them a picture of the situation colleges are facing. Chances are they will sympathize the situation and vote for the tax initiative as well. Students are tired of overcrowded classrooms, how hard it is to add a class, and sections getting cut. But if they don’t take active steps to make changes, no one is going to make them at all.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.

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