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Proposition 55 deserves a ‘yes’ vote

There are a ton of candidates and ballot measures vying for our attention this election season. But one in particular—Proposition 55—deserves a closer look and a ‘yes’ vote.

While it may seem that Proposition 55, the California Children’s Education and Health Care Protection Act, would only impact K-12 and community college students, there’s a very real connection to the California State University system as well.

When the financial market crashed back in 2008, state-funded institutions were severely impacted, and our public education system in California, including the CSU, was hit especially hard. Education funding at all levels was cut to the bone during the recession, forcing more than 30,000 teacher layoffs, huge class sizes and the elimination of programs like music and art. Trying to fairly allocate reduced state funding caused continuous conflict in the CSU system over the past eight years. Now, as the CSU finally begins to recover, is not the time to return to that era.

That’s where Proposition 55 can help.

The ballot measure protects students and public education from returning to the days of massive budget cuts and larger class sizes. It would help K-12 schools and community colleges get more funding, which would result in freeing up money for the CSU.

Without Proposition 55, it is estimated that the CSU could suffer cuts of $250 million to its base budget. Just last year, CSU East Bay’s dance department was threatened with budget cuts, forcing the removal of classes that were vital not only for dance majors to graduate, but for students’ mental health. We need to pass Proposition 55 to ensure the CSU, and its programs, are fully funded.

Proposition 55 would generate an estimated $8 billion to $11 billion in funding for California’s public education by extending current income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians for 12 more years – single income earners making more than $250,000 per year and couples earning more than $500,000 per year.

Over the past few years, California’s public education system has been under attack with budget cuts and contract disputes leading to demonstrations, near strikes, and protests. With fewer classes being offered and the number of impacted schools growing, graduating from the CSU in five to seven years is the norm.

As a result, we students must pay outrageous tuition prices for an additional two to three years just to graduate, thus sending us into even more debt. Paying for college should be an investment into our future, not a detriment to our financial well-being.

Proposition 55 is an opportunity for every member of California’s education system to come together in the fight to fund our future. With the richest Californians paying their fair share, Proposition 55 will give public schools and community colleges the money they need to hire quality teachers and school employees, reduce class sizes and improve the quality of education in the classroom. Please make sure you register to vote by Oct. 24 (http://registertovote.ca.gov/) and vote yes on Proposition 55.

It is an investment in our future. Because of this, Students for a Quality Education is standing with CSU faculty, staff and even the CSU board of trustees to support Proposition 55. By voting yes on 55 today, we have the power to improve education not only for ourselves, but for the students of tomorrow.