(I’ll be at UC Davis today covering the General Assembly, and whatever else happens. Follow me at @LHFang)
There’s a lot of concern about tuition hikes and massive privatization for California’s higher education system. The UC system has to cope somehow with $650 million in budget cuts this year, with another $100 million more in cuts likely next year if revenue estimates are below mark (and they probably will be). Isn’t there another way?
Of course, we could simply reverse the cuts by raising some revenue. Here are just three suggestions to un-cut California and fix the higher ed budget (with money leftover to invest elsewhere, like healthcare and infrastructure, or to provide tax cuts for working families):
— Raising Taxes By 1% On The 1%. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner proposed an additional 1% income tax on those making over $500,000 a year, which is actually less than 1% of California’s population. The tax would create $2.5 billion in new revenues, according to some estimates. Who lobbies against the idea? The bill was defeated largely by a corporate lobbying group in California that counts Walt Disney Corporation and Chevron among its members.
— Tax Oil: A proposal to tax oil and gas producers in the state would garner some $3 billion in revenue for the state. Who lobbies against the idea? The oil industry, along with its many trade associations and political front groups (FYI I’ll be launching an investigation of a major oil-backed conservative organization in CA soon).
— Marijuana Legalization: The Board of Equalization estimates that marijuana legalization in the state of California would result in approximately $1.6 billion in tax revenue. Who lobbies against the idea? The largest statewide police unions (in part because they would lose out on hefty Drug War federal subsidies), the aforementioned corporate lobbying group, the beer & alcohol industry, and several conservative religious groups.
Poll after poll show a majority support these ideas, and only one hasn’t been tried before in modern America.
But, I listed the opponents of each major idea to make a point. Political outcomes require political power, and the mostly corporate interests currently dominating Sacramento are very self-interested.