By Javier Cabrera / Editor-in-Chief
With months of advocating and support from the California Community Colleges, Californians made the choice to pass Proposition 30, as it passed with a 54 percent approval.
Proposition 30 increases California’s sales taxes by one-fourth of a cent and adds an income tax surcharge to residents of the state who make more than $250,000 annually. The tax is scheduled to expire after four years and the income tax component is scheduled to end after seven years.
Dan Troy, the California Community Colleges vice chancellor for college finance and facilities planning, said the Community Colleges budget would have faced a $338 million cut if Proposition 30 failed.
At Riverside Community College District, Chancellor Gregory Gray said the District would have faced an 8.2 million deficit, which it would have affected 1,802 full-time equivalent students at RCCD.
Since October, Associated Students of Riverside City College started holding workshops educating RCC students on the importance of the proposition had on them.
“We were the first college in our District to take a stance on Proposition 30,” said Doug Figueroa, president of Associated Students of RCC. “We were the first ones to start having workshops and going into the classrooms.”
Figueroa said Associated Students of RCC decided on its own it wanted to make a big impact on the election and help get as many students involved with the process of getting Proposition 30 passed.
“In one day we offered online voter registration (and) we had over 200 students register online to vote,” he said. “(We got) the student body involved, everyone did their part (and) everyone understood (their part).”
He said Associated Students of RCC had some RCC students, who are normally not involved with campus event, getting involved and contacting outside resources and groups to help them fight the battle at RCC.
“It shows the unity,” Figueroa said. “It shows we can come together but the fight is not over.”
Cynthia Azari, president of RCC, said she was pleased with the collective effort RCC students produced on advocating for Proposition 30.
“Our students understand the importance of this and they understand the impact,” she said. “As we were cutting back, students were having more difficulty in getting classes.”
Azari said RCC students were effective in getting the vote out for the proposition.
“Without an educated workforce in the state, we are going to be further and further behind, so we need have an educated workforce,” she said.
Chancellor Gray, who made it clear in a Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 18, said the District had to rally behind supporting the Proposition 30, because it had a big impact on the District if it did not pass.
At the meeting in September he mentioned everything the District was planning to do, including having a Plan B meeting, where the District was going to plan ahead in case the proposition failed.
After learning that the proposition passed on Nov. 7, Gray said he was very pleased.
“I had my best drive to work this morning than I have had in the last several months,” he said. “I always felt confidence that Californians would respond to the necessity of supporting education and in our case, Community College education.”
Gray said the District is not out of the woods yet because the state fiscal climate is uncertain.
“What I am saying is we are not mandated today to cut $8.2 million from budget,” he said.