Proposition 30 win leaves ripple effects for CSUN students

Andrew Clark

CSU students, faculty and state officials breathed a short-lived sigh of relief Wednesday as the state electorate passed Proposition 30, the bill that would raise taxes to pay for education.

The measure passed with 53.9 percent of the vote compared to 46.1 percent against the proposition.

CSUN President Dianne Harrison was pleased with the results on the measure.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said in a phone interview while at a conference in Florida.  “It is very good news for our students.”

Dr. Harold Hellenbrand, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, did not sugarcoat the reality of the proposition.

“Prop. 30 is a two-year patch,” Hellenbrand said.

Teachers were active in voting outreach efforts, even going so far as to do a flashmob dance to Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” meant to get students’ attention.

“Public education truly is the economic issue of our time. Californians have cast a lifeline to a system of higher education that has been suffering. This lifeline will provide the next generation of Californians the same access to an affordable, accessible and quality public higher education that previous generations have received,” said the California Faculty Association in a statement released Wednesday.

Students in the CSU system will get a rebate from the 9 percent tuition increase during the 2011-2012 academic year. Graduated students will receive a check for $250, while those who get financial aid will be altered to reflect the change.  Returning students will receive credit for the following semester.

Rick Castallo, CSUN professor of educational leadership and policy studies, predicted schools and neighborhood school boards would differ in how they used the money coming in from the tax increase.

“Schools and their boards are likely to react in different ways.  Some will take the money and run.  Some will use it for immediate relief,” Castallo said.  “They will see it as a way of saving jobs and programs and as a way to keep going forward in the here and now.  Some will take a longer view and try to become more efficient wherever reasonably possible in order to save some money up for the future since things are likely to get worse before they get better.”

For many the vote demonstrates that the general public wants to place more importance on education.

“The passage of Proposition 30 shows us two things: that Californians value public education and that young people truly can make a difference in an election,” said Pedro Ramirez, CSSA Vice President for Legislative Affairs and student at Cal State Long Beach, in a CSSA press release.

The CSSA claims students at Cal State schools will receive a tuition refund of $249 because of the 9 percent tuition increase students endured in 2011-2012, which would maintain annual tuition at $5,472.

Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of Public Instruction, gave his thanks to the governor and all others who worked to pass Proposition 30 and stop further cuts from education in a press release.

“The people of California have given our schools a well-earned vote of confidence. We intend to make the most of it by continuing our work to give all children the world-class education they deserve,” Torlakson said in the release.

Former CSU chancellor Charles Reed said he is hopeful that Proposition 30’s success “will be the beginning of the state’s reinvestment in higher education.”

Harrison said the future of education in California will require outside-the-box thinking.

“Raising tuition in perpetuity is unsustainable,” she said.  “We need to find stable revenue sources.  We have to think a lot more creatively.”

The provost still had problems with the current California electorate.

“California wants to have its cake and eat it too,” Hellenbrand said.  “There are solutions, but our policies impede the solutions.”