Gov. Jerry Brown kicked off a planned tour of state campuses Tuesday to boost student support for his measure to tax sales and incomes and pump billions of dollars into state government. He started wth a rally at UCLA.
He told a few hundred students gathered at the central plaza that after years of recession-caused cuts, it was time for California to re-invest in the state and in education.
"Proposition 30 is an opportunity for the people themselves not only to fix California, but to send a message to the rest of the country that we as a people can invest together in our schools, in our community colleges and in the great University of California," Brown said.
There is a lot at stake for University of California and California State University students in Proposition 30.
Prop. 30 would provide UC students each a $250 refund on part of the tuition increases they've paid this year, and keep tuition the same next term. If it doesn't pass, UC will raise tuition about 20 percent, to nearly $16,000 a year.
The CSU system would reduce its student population by admiting 20,000 fewer students. The CSU system is already planning a 5 percent tuition increase for January.
Prop. 30 adds a quarter cent to California's already steep sales tax for four years - sales taxes top 9 percent in some California counties. The measure would increase income taxes on families making more than a $250,000 a year for the next seven years. And if it doesn't pass, cuts in education in the billions of dollars would be automatically triggered.
Prop. 30 has picked up some major endorsements – Former President Bill Clinton has come out for it, as have major California newspaper editorial boards, including the L.A. Times, Sacramento Bee and La Opinion.
Critics, including Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, call Prop. 30 a $50 billion tax increase over the next seven years while not guaranteeing any new funding for schools. They describe it as a gimmick for the state to take existing school funds and use them on state programs and then backfill the school funds with the new Prop. 30 tax money.
Large public employee unions and big businesses like Disney, Sony, CBS, NBC, Viacom, Warner Bros. have put up the money for the Prop. 30 campaign.
So far, $52 million has been raised supporting Brown's Prop. 30, and $31 million has been raised to oppose it, according to nonpartisan group Maplight, which analyzes campaign funding.
Meanwhile, wealthy activist Molly Munger has donated nearly $33 million of her own money to support her rival measure, Prop 38.
The rival Prop. 38 campaign had been running an advertisement critical of Prop. 30, claiming the money would not directly fund education. But after attacks on the ad, Munger said Monday it would stop airing the ad.