Skip to comments.California ballot initiative would make college free for residents
Posted on 03/22/2012 4:43:26 PM PDT by SmithL
OAKLAND -- Clipboards in hand, high school seniors Estephania Franco and Jocelyn Sanchez approached a group of UC Berkeley students sitting on a curb in Sproul Plaza.
"Hey guys, you want free tuition?" one of them asked.
"Free? Tuition?" sophomore Josh Netter asked, as if waiting for the punchline. "I just feel like it's too good to be possible."
It wouldn't be -- if, by June, supporters of the "College for California" ballot petition managed to gather the signatures of 807,615 people registered to vote in California. And, of course, if voters approved it.
The proposed constitutional amendment, researched and written a year ago as part of a senior class project at Life Academy and Oakland Unity High School, would make state university tuition-free for full-time, in-state students who maintain a 2.7 GPA or perform 70 hours of community service each year. Californians who earn more than $250,000 a year in taxable income would subsidize this additional cost through higher income taxes. The students say they want to restore the tuition-free education policy the state Legislature embraced in 1960 when it adopted the California Master Plan for Higher Education.
The chances of the effort becoming more than a lesson in democracy, however, are slim at best.
"There has not, in the modern era, been a true grass roots initiative that has made it to the ballot," said Thad Kousser, a political-science professor at UC San Diego. By contrast, he said, "Any rich person that has access to a couple million dollars basically snaps their fingers and gets access to the ballot."
California's century-old ballot initiative process was created to counter the powerful interest groups thought to be controlling the state government, said John Matsusaka, president of the University of Southern California's Initiative and Referendum Institute. In practice, he said, the great number of signatures required and the short time frame in which to gather them -- about five months -- make it near-impossible for even the most well organized of citizen groups to succeed without a trove of cash and an army of paid signature gatherers.
Qualifying a statewide ballot measure typically costs $1 to $2 per signature -- and, in competitive initiatives, it can rise to $10, he said.
This year, the competition for education tax measures is stiff. Gov. Jerry Brown and his allies are raising millions of dollars to put another education tax measure before voters that would raise money for public schools and community colleges. Molly Munger, a civil rights attorney and multimillionaire who is advancing her own K-12 education initiative, has so far spent at least $3.4 million of her personal fortune.
Without a budget of any kind, students and teachers behind College for California started a Facebook page and a website, hoping to harness some of the growing outrage over rising tuition costs, massive student loans and the nation's growing wealth disparities, explained Suneal Kolluri and Kara Duros, the teachers who are coordinating the effort.
"Our philosophy was, 'Yeah, we don't have money, we don't have influence, but we have students'" -- nearly 2 million in public high schools, statewide, Kolluri said.
The group contacted other high school teachers, with little success. Most student leaders on university campuses were backing the higher-profile Millionaires Tax, which has since merged with Brown's education initiative. That combined proposition does not include funding for state universities -- a point the College for California team hopes will lead more campus leaders to support their proposal. But time is running out. Their deadline is in June.
The students say they know what they're up against; so far, they believe they have gathered only about 1,000 signatures. Still, they say that even if this attempt falls short, they will have succeeded in making people think differently about the possibilities, and maybe take it further the next time.
At UC Berkeley, some of the college students contemplated the proposal after Franco and Sanchez had moved on to a different group.
"If it was free, it's just a crazy thing to wrap my mind around," said Eric Tymstra, a sophomore. Netter, who sat next to him, said he wished the students luck. "Who wouldn't sign that petition?" he said.
I though California was already way past broke. I guess they are just trying to see how deep they can possibly dig the hole.
Residents of what? Earth?
“Residents” = illegal aliens
2.7 gpa? That's hard.
The Salarians demand a quality education for all organic life!
Oh yes...beyond hard. they should make it lower...like 1.0 so it is not discriminatory against minorities and illegals
Sweet, when the tuition is free, the university will be able to charge even more
This is the kind of stupid stuff Liberals come up with when they don’t even understand the most simple principles of economics.
They think it is a great idea so somebody just find a way to pay for it some magical way. What a bunch of morons. Add this on to other higher fees and taxes for wealthier people and there will be almost no wealthy people left in this state. Then nobody will have a job. What a great idea.....
Brain dead Marxists. Amazing.
.... LOL.... our state became insolvent way back when dinosaurs ruled the earth and YET ....... The fanciful powers that be are still finding more exciting and creative ways to spend that incredible and mystical mountain of cash that isn’t there. And sob and cry when painful cutbacks need to be made...... Unfortunately .... the cutbacks are never made because the fanciful powers that be ..... keep gazing upon that incredible and mystical mountain of cash that isn’t there.
This is exactly why Athenian democracy failed and the founders tried to found a republic. These fools will award themselves “free tuition”. California ( perhaps the wealthiest state in the nation) is already bankrupt. The state is of course overwhelmingly Democratic. Obama will try to get the rest of the country to bail out not only California but Illinois and New York who are equally corrupt. Elections do matter.
And the dead and demented.............
Once the masses discover they can vote themselves access to the treasury democracy is doomed.
Two girls for everyone........
By framing the intent with ‘residents’ they have shown their true intent as you point out. Free ride for any Mexican or any other illegal resident to milk the USA. Their attitude apparently is that their country of origin, especially Mexico, doesn’t owe them anything but the people in the USA do.
Not to worry they can Either have a 2.7 gpa OR they can do 70 hrs of community serve. The really really stupid kids
will do the community service.
Go California Go!
Because of the high qualify of education we have here - they can’t add up the budget versus the expenses and figure out that they’re trying to get blood out of a stone! On the other hand - in true DEMOCRATIC fashion, CA will vote itself yet another freebee - and continue down the bankruptcy path.
I can just imagine what tuition will be 5 years after this passes. Double? Triple? And of course, the tax will then have to be increased.
Californians are pretty politically stupid people, so this kind of thing is probably pretty appealing to many of them.
If I lived there I think it would be fun to start a ballot initiative that constitutionally required the state of California to send “the 99%” one million dollars per year on tax day. It would be hilarious to see if enough Californians exist right now to pass such an absurd idea. I think there might be.
Seriously, anyone living in CA should move out. The place is a lost cause. We could really use good conservatives in other places to help bolster our numbers in increasingly purple states like VA, NC, CO, etc.
No, no, they won't charge more, it's going to be free. Wait sorry..... esta gratis amigo. /s
and all the staff at these Colleges will work for free ?
Wow, this would add $500 a year to property taxes and lord knows what to sales taxes.
I will send my kid to UCLA for his first year of College and pay the out of state tuition.
By the second year he will be eligible for state residency and he can get free in state tuition.
If out of state tuition is too expensive I can just send him there to live for a year. He can just live and work for a year. Then get residency and go to school for FREE.
If they actually pass such a law that is exactly what would happen for millions of high school graduates. I guarantee it.
I hope this passes. Throw in free gasoline for the commute also. It would be a great exclamation mark to the pathetic state of CA
Let’s have free profs at Berkeley. If students can go free, then why not the rest of them?
They can just raise taxes on business and any working Californian.
Oh, I shouldn't count on that. There won't be any businesses left to work for. And competition for government jobs will be intense. And, by the way, does he speak Spanish?
What happens if all the folks making 250,000+ a year move out of California?
Did they bother to think of that?
So who do they figure pays if that happens?
Welfare for college profs.
And my kid can work under the table as good as any illegal. He has no pride.
Why, the whole community will come together and put on a show. They'll make their own costumes, play their own instruments, write their own script, take it to the Hollywood Bowl...and have a giant hit on their hands.
The proceeds will pay for college tuition for everybody. There will even be collateral benefit, proving that they can do anything if they only cooperate -- so that everybody, of all races and classes, learns to love each other.
Failing that, there's always unicorns pooping gold pieces...
It is probably more likely that unicorns will have to poop gold pieces. LOL
As long as the federal taxpayer doesn’t have to pay for it, I say “Knock yourself out.”
lots of small business will close
The text for initiative actually says that eventually they will to make cuts or find another revenue source.
“Summary of estimate by
Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government:
Annual loss of state tuition revenue of about $2.8 billion per year beginning in 2013-14, backfilled
by additional state personal income tax revenue that is likely to total $2 billion or more per year.
Potential shortfalls in university resources in some fiscal years would have to be addressed
through some combination of cost reductions and alternative funding sources, which could create
pressure on the state General Fund. (11-0086)”
Sweet, when the tuition is free, the university will be able to charge even more.”
There is more truth than fiction in that statement. Watch for all the add-on’s and increases in lab supplies, pre-registration, registration, early choice of classes, etc. Since these students won’t have to pay tuition they will have all that “extra” money - never let a good pile of money go to waste. And, of course, they will pay it without a whimper because, after all, they no longer have to pay tuition.
This is really no problem at all.
It just means a 85 to 90 percent restriction on enrollments and staffing cutbacks, broken tenure in all but name, oh, and btw, tax increases.
And no, admission standards still won’t be connected to academic achievement through grade 12.
“free tuition” would allow colleges to double their prices
Minorities, which includes women and not Asians, will be spotted 1.0
The rest of us are NOT going to bail California out...
We need free gas, a 1% additional tax on those that make a whole lotta bucks ought to do it.
We need free food. A 1/2 % tax on those filthy rich ought to do it.
We need free housing. say, a 2% tax on those rich scumbuckets ought to be enough.
We should not be forced to work. A pension for all residents, financed by those evil rich bastages should cover the costs hansomly.
Hey, where did everybody go?
That is quite a boast!
If tuition is free..then they will need to cut the enrollment a lot and sell off some of the schools to private institutions. There simply is not enough money from taxes..now or new to pay for all this. I actually think very low tuition at state schools would be a good idea, but then they would need to be very small selective schools with low overhead and low pay for professors. Like the were 40 years ago.
Hey Democrats cant have all of the low lives. Its not bragging if its true.
Hey and what pride he has is undeserved.