PRO PROP. 30: Is it Crucial for Higher Education?

[Read the argument
against Prop. 30 here]

We’re worried. 

That’s what we Jews do, of course. Often, for good reason. While we’re pleased to see California voters currently favor Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 initiative to restore a measure of fiscal stability to the state, polls show that support is precarious. That is worrying because our system of higher education is counting on Proposition 30.

Since 1960, when the State of California adopted its Master Plan for Higher Education, California has been the envy of the world for its visionary commitment to a high-quality, affordable and accessible educational system for all. It has performed miraculously for us, the citizen owners, and for us, personally, and our families. California’s system of higher education is a big reason why California has attracted such a large and vibrant Jewish community.

Our region boasts a network of hospitals, entertainment, technology and biotech businesses and startups, is the leading exporter of ideas to the rest of the world and the gateway to the Pacific Rim.  None of this could exist without the colleges and universities that educate and train our leaders, provide upward mobility, create industry and jobs, and save lives. 

Despite this remarkable success story, our colleges and universities have suffered through an endless cycle of massive cuts that have caused skyrocketing tuition, larger class sizes and fewer offerings, layoffs and furloughs, and increased time to graduation. Record numbers of high school seniors, returning veterans and unemployed residents are being turned away or pushed out of state to find opportunity.

On Nov. 6, we face a choice that will take us down two very different paths.

A “no” vote, and we dig a deeper hole for public higher education and our economy. The numbers are staggering but important to recite:

Without Proposition 30, the California Community Colleges system will have its budget cut by almost $338 million in the middle of the academic year, which will force colleges to slash course offerings even further and force more layoffs and additional borrowing — this cut is on top of the $502 million cut that the California Community Colleges system took this year.

Without Proposition 30, the immediate impact to the California State University campuses would be an automatic additional budget cut of $250 million and a total loss of state funding of nearly $1.2 billion since 2007-08.

Without Proposition 30, the University of California will face a $250 million “trigger” cut and lose a $125.4 million tuition increase buyout in the adopted budget package, for a total shortfall of $375.4 million.

A “yes” vote, and we begin to restore fiscal stability and support for a public higher education system that provides the way forward and the way up for millions of Californians. Consider:

Nearly 50 percent of all California veterans receiving GI educational benefits attend a California Community College for workforce training or to get a degree.

  • California Community Colleges educate 70 percent of our state’s nurses.
  • California State University graduates more than 90,000 students into the state’s workforce each year and awards more than half of the college degrees in agriculture every year to boost the nation’s largest agricultural state.

The University of California alone contributes more than $14 billion in economic activity to the state — and that does not include thousands of UC-related spinoffs that provide high-paying jobs and contribute vital tax dollars.

The three of us graduated from the University of California and have gone on to lead productive lives in business, law and community service, as have so many of the Journal’s readers, as a result of the educational opportunities we have received here in California. The small amount that we are being asked to pay in temporary taxes is a worthwhile investment to assure that our children and grandchildren also have the opportunity to benefit from a great public higher education system.

We formed the California Coalition for Public Higher Education to help restore support for public higher education as an engine of growth and opportunity for the people of California. Proposition 30 is an important step in that direction. We need to support Proposition 30 and say “yes” to public higher education.

Former Congressman Mel Levine; Jeffrey A. Seymour, former University of California Alumni Regent; and Howard Welinsky, former chair of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, are co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education — Yes on Proposition 30 Committee. For more information on their efforts, visit