Editorial: The “Take-one-for-the-team” tax

In Editorials

The state of California is a provider. Health services, social services and, perhaps most importantly, public schools and universities are dependent on the state’s budget. Like a blue-collar worker with too many mouths to feed, the state continues to dutifully provide all this despite suffering from crippling budget cuts at every turn and having the pressure of ever-mounting debt placed on its broad, yet fragile, shoulders.

California needs, for lack of a better term, a pay raise from ‘the boss’; the boss being California taxpayers.

Proposition 30, going on the state ballot this November, could be just the thing the state needs to turn its fortunes–and more to the point, those of its ailing educational system-around. Proposition 30 will increase tax rates of the top 3 percent of California taxpayers (single filers making $250,000 and above) and increase state sales tax from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent over the next seven years. The funds allocated would be put directly back into K-12 schools and community colleges, with additional revenue going toward the state’s ‘general fund’ where funding for state universities like ours comes from.

Perhaps most importantly, however, is that the funds cannot be used for administrative costs, instead being beholden to school governing boards in transparent, open meetings. In short, we all pitch in a little, the wealthy pitch in noticeably more and the state’s education starts down the road to recovery.

It can be noted that this is essentially a tax on the rich. It asks for a major sacrifice from a very small number of people and some may deem that as unfair.

However, the 3 percent need to look at this tax as an intelligent investment. Education should be tantamount to building the future, yet it is among the first things to take a direct hit in a budget crisis. Troublesome, yes, but even more so when considering that a 2012 study conducted by Berkeley researchers titled ‘California’s Economic Payoff’ stated that every $1 invested in getting students into and through college yielded a state return of $4.50; a return of 450 percent. This added up to an estimated $12 billion from UC and CSU graduates alone.

Again, those numbers suggest investment in education is a no-brainer.

Yet should Proposition 30 fail, trigger cuts would go into effect that would reduce CSU’s spending by another $250 million. This means that CSU cuts over the last three fiscal years are unfathomably close to a whopping $1 billion. This fight is one that we as students-–that we as a California State University–cannot afford to lose.

The state of California is a provider, but it is in need of a bit of help. November grants us a rare opportunity to turn things around and the wealthy an even rarer chance to invest in the future of our state. Let’s take it.

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