As the November ballots draw closer, schools and colleges prepare for what-if scenarios as Proposition 30 is losing its buzz among voters, in what could be one of the most important ballot measures for future generations.
“All colleges and universities are already starting to cut back, just as a precaution,” said Ron Nakasone, Vice President of Administrative Services. “Without Prop. 30, students will find it even harder to transfer to a UC or CSU, and the CC system will be flooded.”
GCC registered 5,000 students in waitlists this semester. The number will expand indefinitely in the following spring semester, should Proposition 30 fail.
“Should Prop. 30 fail, campus trigger cuts will put GCC $4.6 mllion more in debt, on top of the $4.5 million we are already by mid-year,” said Nakasone. “The campus may get a cut of about 500 classes for spring, should Prop. 30 fail.”
“It would definitely lower my ability to advance in higher education,” said Alex Davis, 19, a sophomore studying Journalism at GCC.
“I have some priority here and I still had three of my classes on the waitlist. If more classes are getting cut, then I’m pretty sure I’m going to be here a very long time.”
On top of class cuts in many campuses, CSUs will enact tuition hikes to cover the cost of debt in the state should Proposition 30 fail to pass.
A 5 percent tuition hike was approved by the California State University Board of Trustees, on Sept. 19, raising average tuition costs by $150 a semester, should the proposition fail. Nonresident students should see a 7 percent tuition increase, raising the cost per unit from $372 to $399.
The CSU system would have a $250 million trigger cut in funding should Proposition 30 fail to pass.
The five percent tuition hike would raise $58 million in the academic year to cover the loss.
“Tuition in the past years has gone up substantially making harder for students to attend,” said Nakasone.
“I went to a CSU for the cheaper tuition,” said Ayleen Dimailig, 19, a sophomore studying health sciences at Cal State Northridge. “I hope Prop. 30 passes, or else there’s no point in coming here.”
Others don’t see the rise in tuition as much of a problem.
“I believe I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve had priority since I got here,” said Justyn De Leon, 20, a junior studying communication disorders and sciences. “It would set me back a bit since I pay out of pocket, but I would feel like there would be less competition.”
On top of the K-12’s $5.5 billion trigger cut, costing students three weeks of school, new high school graduates as well as transfer students will be adversely affected, should Proposition 30 fail to pass.
“If the proposition were to fail, the CSU system could start having to send applicants from high school or from community college a letter saying that those students are on hold,” said Nakasone. “They wouldn’t be able to commit to new applicants.”
The CSU’s $250 million cut would also mean reduction of classes offered, layoff of faculty and staff and enrollment cuts.
In spite of the proposition passing or failing, community colleges are looking at alternatives to help high school graduates enroll into classes in their first semester.
“We’re going to have to change the entire priority registration system,” said Nakasone.
Plans of priority registration changes are to let high school graduates have an earlier priority registration date and lower the rank of students in the campus with more than 100 units accumulated.
“It’s going to work more or less like a bell curve; if students stay enrolled in campus their priority will improve, but to allow new students, those students priority will be back up further and further after a certain point,” said Nakasone.
To assist high school students, as well as current and returning college and university students further, Proposition 30 will allow for rollbacks in tuitions in CSUs and increases in classes offered in campuses, should it pass.
About 100 more classes would be offered in spring should Proposition 30 passes, according to Nakasone.
A 9 percent tuition hike at the CSUs will be rolled back should Proposition 30 pass. CSU students would also get tuition refunds or credit for tuition and the system would have to recalculate the financial aid given to most students.
“GCC really wouldn’t see much of a profit with this bill, only really just flat revenue to help with classes being offered,” said Nakasone. “On top of the proposition helping the higher learning institutions, it also helps the K-12 system.”
Eighty-nine percent of the revenue made from the tax hike will go to K-12, 11 percent will go to higher learning. Proposition 30 also guarantees some funds to be realigned from state to local governments, which funds could then be used for other services.
Classes aren’t the only potential victims on the chopping block. Employees at community colleges are also at risk of being let go of their jobs.
“My mother’s job depends on this proposition,” said Davis. “She works in Valley College and she’s at risk of being laid off if the bill fails.”
An income tax raise of 1 to 3 percent will go into effect for the wealthiest Californians, whom earn more than $250,000 annually.
Revenues of $6.8 billion to $9 billion are expected, according to estimates from the Legislative Analysts’ Office and Gov. Jerry Brown. The effect of the bill will last seven years.
“Most people really shouldn’t see much of a difference in how much they pay in taxes, unless you are making over a quarter of a million and more,” said Nakasone. According to the IRS, less than 3 percent of all American households make more than $250,000 annually.
A sales tax hike of a quarter cent will also be in effect, which will be in effect for four years.
More information on the proposition will be available in the official California Voter Guide.
As of Sept. 28, a USC/LA Times poll still suggests that the majority of California still support Proposition 30, at 54 percent saying they were for it. It’s a much slimmer lead than it had in March, when there was 64 percent support for the measure.
Proposition 30’s rival measure, Proposition 38, which would raise income taxes for most Californians to pay for public education, isn’t faring too well, with only 32 percent of California supporting it.
The governor’s measure is still ahead, but it seems to be losing steam.
If Proposition 30 fails, $6 billion in additional cuts will affect California schools and colleges, and will risk the layoffs of many teachers and professors. Without the proposition, California faces higher debt in the years to come.
“Only one thing is for certain: It’s not going to get better if Proposition 30 fails,” said Nakasone.