June 4, 2012June 4, 2012 brettanthonydixon Vote Tomorrow — Green Voter Guide Available Online! Please see our Voter Guide page for the June 2012 Voter Guide. Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like Loading... Related
I was disappointed to read your analysis of Measure B in the Green Voter Guide. In complaining about the lack of “quantified controls and specifics” in the measure, you sounded more like the California Taxpayers Association than a progressive voice.
You miss the point with your complaint about the lack of specifics in the measure. The reason to ask for a parcel tax is to supply the community college district with unrestricted funds — money that can be applied to whatever needs to be done, without limits or controls on the purposes. In contrast, bond funds can only be used for specific construction, remodeling or large capital projects. Bond funds can’t be used to add new sections of over-enrolled classes, services for disabled students, or financial aid for low-income students.
Secondly, you show a lack of understanding of how community college governance works. The community college budgeting system already allows for voter oversight through the elected board of trustees, which must ratify the budget; campus constituent oversight through the shared governance process that requires input on the budget from administrators, faculty and students; and through accreditation, which brings in outside auditors who review the fiscal decisions and decision-making processes to be sure they are sound. Community colleges, if anything, are OVERLY regulated and scrutinized as the “No Child Left Behind” model of “accountability” is being pushed into higher education: Every academic and department must now complete a program review at least once every three years in which “student success rates” are analyzed and equipment and personnel needs justified based on their contribution to student achievement. The accrediting body requires budget decisions to be based on these program reviews, and the state legislature has threatened to make at least part of our overall funding dependent on so-called “student success.”
Finally, your claim that parcel taxes are “inherently regressive” reflects a shallow analysis. If the recession has showed us anything, it is that a public budget system that relies heavily on sales and income taxes is subject to wild fluctuations as the economy booms and busts, with necessary social services suffering disproportionately during the down times. Yes, businesses should pay a higher property tax rate. But the solution to that is to reform Proposition 13, not to reject every parcel tax out of hand.
The Peralta Community College district has made some questionable decisions in recent years, mostly under the leadership of former Chancellor Elihu Harris. However, the bottom line is that the system has been underfunded for decades and decimated by the recent recession. State funding to the community college system has dropped 12 percent in the last five years and we are now serving 300,000 fewer students overall, even though economic hard times are driving more people to seek degrees and retraining. Over the same period, fees have risen from $18 a unit to $46 a unit.
I do not teach at a Peralta college, but I have taught in the community college system since 2000. Providing adequate funding to community colleges, which serve students who are lower-income and more diverse in every sense of the word than the CSU and UC system, should be a Green Party core value.