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Bill by Assembly Speaker John Perez would tax corporations to help students pay for college

John Perez promotes the Middle Class Scholarship Act in Sacramento
John Perez promotes the Middle Class Scholarship Act in Sacramento

A Los Angeles lawmaker is putting forth a controversial idea he says will help the middle class: taxing private corporations to help students pay for their college tuition.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, says his Middle-Class Scholarship Act would cut tuition by more than half for families with a total yearly income under $150,000 -- affecting about 200,000 students statewide. A CSU student, for example, would save about $4,000 under the bill, according to supporters.

A promotional website says the savings “will be paid for entirely by closing the $1 billion wasteful corporate tax loophole that allows out-of-state corporations to elect to lower their California tax bill.”

The act, put forth in Assembly Bills 1500 and 1501, was introduced in February. One of the two assembly bills is scheduled to come before the state Assembly’s Higher Education Committee tomorrow.

Democrats say the bill would bring much-needed relief to students across the state’s University of California and California State University campuses -- where tuition continues to rise significantly and has tripled over the past 10 years, according to CBS -- giving it much popular support. Last week the L.A. City Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing it.

Republicans say education is subsidized enough and believe legislators should find other ways to balance the state budget.

The bills would need a two-thirds vote to pass the Assembly before being signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.