Will California’s Lawmakers Choose to Support Corporations or College Students?


By Ella Arnold


California’s state legislators have an important choice to make: will they side with major out-of-state corporations or will they stand with California’s middle class families?

Earlier this year, California State Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez introduced legislation called the Middle Class Scholarship Act, which aims to make a public higher education more affordable for California’s middle class college students and their families. Recently, the major out-of-state corporations opposed to the Middle Class Scholarship Act have voiced their opposition publicly. 

Chrysler, General Motors, International Paper, and Kimberley-Clark have all banded together to stand against the Middle Class Scholarship because they believe that the act would discourage companies from investing in California due to tax increases. These corporations formed a coalition to lobby against the Middle Class Scholarship Act called California Employers Against Higher Taxes and are speaking through Randle Communications, a Sacramento-based consulting and public affairs firm whose previous clients include former California Republican Gubernatorial candidate and current President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Meg Whitman. According to their spokesman, the coalition has not yet hired lobbyists or made political contributions.

The Middle Class Scholarship Act would be paid for in full by closing a wasteful corporate loophole that only benefits out-of-state businesses. Closing this loophole would create $1 billion that would directly benefit the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems. Furthermore, under this legislation, all UC or CSU students with a family income less than $150,000 would receive a Middle Class Scholarship, which would slash their student fees by two-thirds.

This legislation would also benefit California’s community college students by providing the California Community College system with $150 million. Each community college district would have the power to disperse the funds in the best way to benefit their individual district.

At the end of May, AB 1501, one of the two bills that comprise the Middle Class Scholarship Act, passed in the California State Assembly. AB 1500, which provides funding for the Middle Class Scholarship Act faces a much tougher battle to gain the required two-thirds majority vote that it needs in order to pass in the Legislature.

As a proud graduate of a California State University, I believe that the Middle Class Scholarship Act is a great idea that should have the support of every California State Legislator. There is nothing more vital to ensure the longevity of our state’s economy than investing in the future. It’s simple: funding higher education will strengthen California’s economy by preparing its college students to face the challenges of the 21st century workforce. 

Far too many of California’s college students are being priced out of the public higher education they deserve. Currently, tuitions at UC and CSU schools have skyrocketed to the point where it recently became cheaper for a middle class student to attend Harvard than to attend San Jose State University. The corporations that are opposed to the Middle Class Scholarship Act claim that the act would cause businesses to stop doing business in California -- but what about the record number of students who are now leaving California each year to attend college in another state? These corporations fail to see the correlation between keeping college affordable and keeping California’s economy afloat.

California’s middle class is the backbone of its economy and it is the driving force that will pull it out from economic decline. I sincerely hope that California’s lawmakers will reject the greedy corporations that have no interest turning our state’s economy around and will stand in solidarity with California’s middle class families.

Please sign the petition in support of the Middle Class Scholarship Act today.

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commented 2012-06-29 12:21:40 -0400 · Flag
Although i dont live in California and i do support any help with the cost of higher education, 150 thousand? I wouldnt worry at all if my family made 150thousand a year. My family made at my father’s height 32 Thousand (and that was making 16.50 an hour 45 hrs a week). People that make below 50 thousand need it more because if you make 150 thousand, there is a place where you can save money. The difference is that under 50~ there is no where to penny pinch for college.
published this page in Blog 2012-06-15 12:46:00 -0400

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