By Augustine Ugalde
Much has been written and said about the virtues and shortfalls of Governor Jerry Brown’s so-called Millionaire’s Tax Initiative.
Proposition 30 promises to restore the health of California’s education system by raising taxes on residents whose income exceeds $250,000 per year, and by levying an additional, quarter percent sales tax to all residents.
The objective of the proposition is not complicated. It is a last-ditch effort by the governor to bring education back from the dismal state that it is in today.
The hope here is that this message will reach beyond the boundaries of East Los Angeles College to those people who will also be affected by the initiative’s defeat.
ELAC is in a bad way at this time. Sections have been cut, while faculty, services and staff have been reduced or eliminated altogether.
Proposition 30’s defeat will have a devastating effect on the school and all those directly and indirectly associated with it.
This message must reach the parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and neighbors of all Elans who walk the hallways of this great institution.
The school cannot be allowed to flounder through a new reality of broken promises and unfulfilled dreams.
A personal case in point is my own sister Arcie. Arcie is a former educator who worked much of her life at the Burbank Unified School District and is now enjoying her retirement years in the same city.
She has always done the right things in life by working hard;saving her money, raising a family, treating others with respect, paying her taxes and being a totally decent person.
I have loved, respected and admired her all my life, but when I discovered during a discussion about Proposition 30 that she will vote against it, it came as quite a surprise.
Arcie is tired of the constant flood of tax increases she has had to endure throughout her lifetime and is at the point where she just wants to shout “enough” at the top of her lungs.
She has a valid point. After all, who wants to pay more taxes? However this is a different kind of proposition.
The governor is asking California’s wealthiest residents to take the brunt of this tax, while those residents who are struggling the most will contribute to a lesser degree, but contribute nonetheless.
This is something most Californians must take into consideration when voting this November.
Arcie is exactly the type of person who needs to be informed of the current conditions being suffered at every education level in the state, and how Proposition 30 can help.
She needs to know about the effects of the recent budget cuts and about the additional cuts that will follow of Proposition 30 fails to pass. She needs to know about the section cuts.
She needs to know about the great number of students, sometimes more than 100, who cram into classrooms with 35 seats trying to be one of the fortunate few that will be added.
She needs to know about the former South Gate shuttle bus.
She needs to know that department and state-funded tutoring labs have severely cut their hours, making it more difficult for students to acquire the help they need to get through college.
She needs to know about the feeling of hopelessness some students are experiencing because they cannot get the classes they need to get their educations started, or to transfer to a university.
Her time at BUSD came during the salad days of education when schools were well-funded, giving students their best chances to succeed in life and to therefore make positive contributions to society.
Those days are now a distant memory. Today’s reality is bleak, and if Proposition 30 fails more budget cuts will follow, threatening the future of the school and most importantly, its students.
Elans need to seek-out and discuss this reality to people outside the school.
They need to explain that an educated populace can only benefit the state today and in the future.Education must, once again, become a priority to the state of California.
Opponents of Propositon 30 have spent millions of dollars to defeat the initiative, concentrating mostly on the language of the proposition.
Proposition 30 proponents argue that the money is dedicated to the funding of education, and that a series of checks and balances is in place that ensures the money will be spent as intended.
All arguments have been made. It is time to make the right decision by voting for Proposition 30, and to reach out to the people of California to do the same.
The students who are here today will be the leaders of the future in government, business, trade and education.
The system must be allowed to survive and thrive, so that its students can survive and thrive.