Republicans Use 2/3 Rule to Favor Big Corporations Over Middle Class Students

Posted on 07 September 2012

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By Robert Cruickshank

Fifteen years ago this week, I began my first semester of classes as a UC Berkeley undergraduate. At the time, student fees were about $2200 a semester, or $4400 a year. Here in 2012 that would not even  cover a single academic term at a UC school. My four years of UC education cost just under $18,000. A four year education would cost nearly four times that today.

As a product of Southern California's lower middle class, I'm not sure I could have afforded to attend UC Berkeley if I had to start today. I could take out loans that would total nearly $60,000, which would leave me struggling even if I were to graduate in 2016 and find a good job right out of college.

The difference between 1997 and 2012 is that over those 15 years, state funding for higher education has been gutted, largely to pay for tax breaks. Speaker John A. Pérez's  Middle Class Scholarship proposal would help reverse the trend, closing tax loopholes for big corporations and use the money to help make college more affordable.

As the 2011-12 legislative session wound to a close last night, hopes were high that AB 1500, would find the Republican votes it needed in the State Senate to pass and head to the governor's desk. In a development that will probably surprise nobody, Republicans and some corporate Democrats refused to support the plan. Despite a majority of Senators backing it, a 2/3 vote is needed to raise a tax, even if it's just closing a loophole, and so the plan was shelved, although Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders have vowed to revive the plan next year.

The stalling out of the Middle Class Scholarship is a classic example of how the 2/3 rule actually works in practice - it protects the rich at the expense of everyone else. While California Republicans believe that a rabid anti-tax ideology helps make them electable, the reality is that most middle class families see the rising cost of college as a direct threat to their financial security and their family's future. The four-fold increase of the cost of going to UC over the last 15 years is a massive tax increase on working families. Republicans have vowed to protect that tax increase so that wealthy corporations could get a tax break.

Democrats need to hang this around Republican necks over the next two months leading up to the November elections, especially in the swing seats. I'm sure that Ventura County Democrats, for example, will waste no time in letting people know that Tony Strickland and his party want to make it unaffordable for local kids to go to college so that big businesses can get a tax break.
Ultimately, this is another example of the need to get rid of the 2/3 rule for tax increases, which protects the rich while destroying what remains of California's middle class.

Robert Cruickshank writes on California politics at Calitics and at California High Speed Rail Blog. This article first appeared on Calitics.

You seem like a smart guy. Why don't you "stop the four-fold increase of the cost of going to UC over the last 15 years." One example is University of California regents approved salary raises of between 6.4% and 23% for administrators. Just google UC Berkeley pay increases you might learn something, heck all UC schools.
Lesson #2 If you raise taxes on corporations who do think they pass those costs on to? The lower middle class or just the rich people? When you tax corporations and they move to Texas who does that hurt? More taxes is not the answer, how about cutting cost, lets start with the UC system.

Ideally, any academically-qualified citizen should be able to attend college without any tuition or fees.But, as it is now, many students are admitted not because they are qualified, but for other reasons: e.g, athletic skills, etc.

Of course, even just admitting qualified students would still cost a great deal. Taxes would have to be raised; but costs(adminisrative salaries, non-academic classes,etc. )would also have to reduced.

I don't know what universe Robert is living in. California hasn't cut any taxes that I know of. The income tax rate is large and, as my income has gone up, so it has too. Sales tax has gone up, too. Property taxes have not but only on a small percent of the population that hasn't moved. But, even that isn't really a cut.

No, the reall reason California is financially broke is because the semi-affluent middle class is leaving. I saw a study that tracked the tax returns for those leaving and those moving in and it showed that California was loosing a couple of billion dollars of taxable income every year for the last twenty years. I posted in in this blog some time ago. You take that $70 billion in lost taxable income and you see the real problem. The middle class is moving out. This means the engineers, accountants, IT professionals, etc.

I thought about this and I left in 2006. Saves mean my wife $1500/month every month. That is what is happening Robert. You make the state economically painful and the producers leave.

Robert Cruickshank is a whack job! The far left and the far right are destroying this country, and YES, he is part of the far left.

The public’s UC Berkeley harvests family savings, Alumni money, taxes. Cal. is nationally ranked #1 public university total academic cost (resident) with Provost, Chancellor’s goal to ‘charge resident Californians higher tuition’. UC Berkeley tuition is rising faster than costs at other universities.

Cal ranked # 2 in faculty earning potential. Spending on salaries has increased 29% in last six years (Did you receive a 29% salary increase?). Believe it: Harvard College less costly

University of California negates the promise of equality of opportunity: access, affordability is farther and farther out of reach. Self-absorbed Chancellor Birgeneau, Provost Breslauer are outspoken for Cal. ‘charging residents much higher’ tuition.

Birgeneau ($450,000) Breslauer ($306,000) like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving them their demanded funding. The ‘charge instate students higher tuition’ skyrocketed fees by an average 14% per year from 2006 to 2011-12 academic years. If Chancellor Provost had allowed fees to rise at the same rate of inflation over the past 10 years they would still be in reach of most middle income students. Breslauer Bergeneau increase disparities in higher education and defeat the promise of equality of opportunity.

Additional state tax funding must sunset. The sluggish economy and 10% unemployment devistate family savings. Simply asking for more taxes to fund expensive Cal.senior leadership, old inefficient higher education practices, excessive faculty staff compensation and burdensome bonuses, is not the answer.

UC Berkeley is to maximize access to the widest number of Californians at a reasonable cost. Birgeneau’s Breslauer’s ‘charge Californians higher tuition’ denies middle income families the transformative value of Cal.

The California dream: keep it alive and well. Fire (honorably retire) hapless Provost George W Breslauer. Birgeneau resigned.

Opinions? UC Board of Regents Calif. State Senators, Assembly members.