A good call on a bad law

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Super Tuesday has come and gone.

While the main focus of the day was on the tight race between Clinton and Obama for the democratic presidential nomination, the primaries weren’t the only things on voters minds.

This time around at the election polls, there was something a little different in the air.

Voters seemed to be more informed and concerned about how changes in the ways that their tax dollars would be raised and spent.

While not all Californians are happy about the outcomes of Super Tuesday, there were some encouraging results.

One such result was the rejection of Proposition 92, also known as the California Community College Initiative.

This proposition would have established budget guarantees for the community colleges.

Right now, the current law in California requires that state must provide a minimum level of funding for K-14 education.

Some claim that this is unfair to the community colleges because they could potentially get short changed.

Prop 92 would’ve split state education spending into two categories: K-12 and community colleges. The proposition would have also lowered tuition fees to $15 per unit and limited the state’s authority to increase fee levels in future years.

The proposition was supported by the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, the California Community College Trustees, and the California Federation of Teachers.

The young adult population, which is considered to be 17 to 25 years of age, is expected to grow between two and three percent over the next several years. This could increase attendance at community colleges and, thus, extra funds are needed.

So, with the passage of Prop 92 and the expected attendance increase, tuition fees could have been reduced starting as early as the fall semester of 2008.

Sounds like a sweet deal, right? Well, we thought so too – at first.

However, appearances can be pretty deceiving.

I mean, we love education as much as the next guy, but Prop 92 just isn’t the right way to bring about the changes needed to improve community colleges.

The proposition was opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Small Business Action Committee, the California Taxpayers’ Association, the California Business Roundtable and, interestingly enough, the California Teachers Association.

The number one reason that there was fueling the opposition to Prop 92 dealt with two things: bureaucracy and accountability.

We can all agree that one thing we need less of is bureaucracy, and one thing we could use more of is accountability.

Passing Prop 92 would have been a bad idea because it expands bureaucracy, but contains no accountability, no judicial oversight and requires no public audits.

There would have been no way to keep check on how the money provided by Prop 92 would have been spent.

Besides accountability, the basics of Prop 92 beg some questions.

In light of our current budget crisis, how can the state afford to give community colleges more money? Where would this money have come from? And why give more money to the community colleges and not other types of institutions working toward higher education?

The last time we checked, community college education was relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to the California State University and the University of California’s systems.

Ballot-box budgeting, for even the worthiest of causes, is a bad practice that bloats budgets and narrows the ability of elected officials to fund other priorities. This is especially problematic in our current economic downturn.

Maybe the rejection of Prop 92 will discourage other quick-talking legislators from trying to pass deceptive propositions.

Just like voters rejected this prop at the polls on Super Tuesday, voters should continue to stay informed so deceptive props like this one don’t get passed in the future.

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