The future of education funding in California

We the people of California will need to pay for the future of education through tax hikes.

California’s fiscal policies are broken. Starting with the real estate market crash in 2007, the state's administration has dug itself so deeply into debt, the light at the end of the tunnel seems nearly unreachable.

In recent years, billions of dollars have been cut from the University of California and California State University systems, and seemingly everyone is outraged. As Governor Jerry Brown faces a $9.2 billion deficit this year, the question is: where should the much needed education funding come from?

In keeping with economist Milton Friedman's adage, “there's no such thing as a free lunch,” it is clear that the responsibility lies with us as California citizens to pay higher taxes to fund our state's public services.

SMC Board of Trustees member, Louise Jaffe, agrees.

“At the end of the day,” she said in an e-mail, “if we want robust and high quality public services (and that includes public colleges and universities), we the public will have to commit the funds to support that as a priority.”

Jaffe further validated the notion by adding, “we need to build confidence in public services and get away from thinking that taxes are something bad. Taxes are the shared contribution of the members of a society to a better and healthier society.”

Though it is a socialist concept by nature, many European governments have succeeded with the adaptation of a higher income tax policy, using the increased revenue to build well-modeled education and healthcare systems, and thus kept their citizens in a relative state of placation.

With Gov. Jerry Brown's upcoming tax proposal, it appears as though our state's administration is beginning to take note from our neighbors across the pond.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the measure, due to appear on November's ballot, “would hike the state sales tax by a quarter-cent per dollar for the next four years and create a graduated surcharge on incomes of more than $250,000 that would last seven years.”

Gov. Brown plans to use the increased tax revenue to alleviate the pain of budget cuts which have been sending California schools like Santa Monica College into financial turmoil.

In a recent poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times, 64% of voters supported Brown's proposal. If the citizens of California commit to the need for a strong academic curriculum and adequate public school funding, our state will be able to finance its spending indefinitely.

California Forward, a self-proclaimed “nonpartisan nonprofit organization,” has emerged on the forefront of this movement out of many vying for educational reform.

The NGO claims in their mission statement that “restructuring California’s government can be the beginning of a cycle – improved education, increased employment, decreased poverty, improved health, and less crime – that can lead to the best possible outcome: a government that achieves positive social gains in a financially sustainable way.”

California Forward, though miniscule and inconsequential in comparison to the state's administration, has the right idea.

Higher income taxes do not necessarily have to be for the sole, self-indulgent use of the government. If we play our cards right, everyone might be able to benefit.