Of Tigers and Tax Initiatives

Angel Silva, Managing Editor

American writer Frank Stockton is best known for his fable “The Lady and the Tiger,” in which a man is sentenced to a unique punishment for having an affair with a king’s daughter: he is given two doors, and behind either door awaits a beautiful maiden or death via a bloodthirsty tiger.

The daughter, who can’t bear to see the man with another woman or to see him die, signals him a door to pick from afar. The man picks a door, and the story abruptly ends there. Whether the man picks the door with the tiger or with the maiden is left to the reader to decide.

California’s education system is in the same position as that man – there are two main options, Proposition 30 and Proposition 38. There’s a great deal of confusion regarding which door is the right one and which leads to demise. However, the stakes here are higher. With the fate of community college campuses (including Glendale College) hanging in the balance, Proposition 30 is our only method of salvation.

Proposition 30 (the California Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative), would increase income tax for those making over $250,000 for the next seven years, raise sales tax by one-quarter percent, and increase taxes for those making $1 million or more from 10.3 percent to 13.3 percent. Revenues raised by this initiative will be distributed to K-12 schools and community colleges, with 11 percent of that revenue going to colleges and 89 percent to public schools.

This option covers both community colleges and K-12 education with a plan that thinks of the long-term situation. Both educational institutions are covered, with a majority of the funds actually going towards K-12 education. Is 11 percent too much to ask for a system that has been forced to raise its tuition from $26 a unit to $46 a unit over the span of two years?

The other option, Proposition 38 (the Molly Munger’s California State Income Tax Increase to Support Education Initiative) plans to levy a 12-year income tax increase for most Californians depending on how much they make, from a 0.4 percent increase for people making $7,300 to a 2.2 percent increase for those making $2.5 million. Revenue raised will go solely to the K-12 system.

One key issue that Proposition 38 fails to address is that of community colleges, including GCC. A sudden $149 million loss in the community college budget in late February forced many campuses to cut courses and staff, with Glendale’s share of that deficit at $4.5 million.

Focusing on one side of the education spectrum is irresponsible and short-sighted. Without a comprehensive plan covering both K-12 and higher education, Proposition 38 is the tiger behind the door on the upcoming November ballot.

There is no middle ground – the proposition with the most votes will pass. If Proposition 38 passes, more budget cuts will occur and professors, classified staff and administrators will face the very real possibility of layoffs. If neither one passes, we’ll just be stuck in the same rut that we’re facing right now.

So what can we do as concerned citizens?

The first step is to get informed, and since you’re reading this, you’re well on your way. Make sure you can vote – you won’t be able to vote unless you’re registered. There’s a voter registration booth in Plaza Vaquero processing voter forms, and some professors and faculty have voter registration forms as well. The registration cutoff is Oct. 22, so registering should be a priority on every potential voter’s list.

Second, get out and vote. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, your vote is your voice – make sure to exercise that voice in a voting booth this November. Vote for the future of this campus and others like it – vote for Proposition 30.

Together, we can lead California through the right door and not be thrown off by a short-sighted choice. Unlike the man in the story, we’re well aware of what lies behind the doors we’re offered. To pick Proposition 38 would lead California’s community college educational system to the same bloody fate as opening the door with the tiger behind it.