One part of our work as a union in defending and expanding public education is to support different bills and initiatives at the local and State level. We support initiatives that are aimed at raising revenue through progressive taxation for public services, increasing the accountability and transparency of public institutions, and making these institutions more accessible and inclusive.
We are aware that legislative action is only one part of our action strategy, and that to have bills and initiatives approved, we must build popular support and power through grassroots mobilization. That is the work our union does.
On June 24th 2011 our local endorsed the Oil Extraction Fee to Fund Education Initiative (Prop 1481) as one of the many possible solutions to raise revenue in the State of California to fund public education.
Oil Extraction Fee to Fund Education Initiative
According to Peter Mathews, the author of the initiative, this will generate $3.6 billion a year for California Education: $400 million for CSU, $1.09 billion for K-12, $1.5 billion for community colleges and $350 million for UC.
Even though we know such an amount will not be enough to ensure the proper functioning of the UC system nor of the rest of the public education system, we see this initiative as a necessary step to raise revenue by instituting a tax of 15% on crude oil drilled from California both onshore and offshore.
California is the 3rd largest oil producer in the United States (after Alaska and Texas) but it is the only state in the nation without an oil severance tax. This means that today, the oil drilled from the federal waters off the California coast is subject to an 18.75% federal tax while the oil being extracted from California territory is not taxed at all. Why should Californians tolerate such an exception at the risk of losing their public services and education?
Other states have been instituting these changes in the taxation system of their oil. In 2007, Gov. Palin raised the oil extraction fee in Alaska from 22% to 25%, but Alaska is not the only State in the union that taxes oil extraction: Wyoming has a 6% severance tax on crude oil and natural gas, with an additional 16.6% royalties tax on oil produced on state lands, plus 50% of the royalties paid for oil produced on federal lands. Texas has a 4.6% tax based on the market value of oil and North Dakota a 11.5% oil severance tax.
To find more about the initiative, visit the Rescue Education California Website.
UC/CSU Executive Pay Cap Bill (AB 39×1)
Our local supports the legislative initiative to cap the compensation of higher public education executives (AB 39×1) that was introduced by Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D – San Gabriel Valley) on August 2011.
This legislation will cap the pay of CSU presidents at $300,000 and recommend that UC chancellors pay be capped at $326,000a and will prohibit the use of state funds or student fees to be spent on higher executives pay increases or compensations in periods of cuts and tuition hikes.
As a union we believe we must put an end to the mismanagement of funds by the University of California. While we acknowledge that to keep the UC public we need to increase revenue from both the CA State and the federal government, we believe neither the UC administration nor the UC Regents manage the public funds in the interests of students and workers. On the contrary, revenues from student fees and public money have, for example, been used to finance new construction projects while basic courses have been cut, or to increase the number of high paid management positions, while losing faculty and staff who are essential for the educational mission of the UC.
From 1997 to 2007 the student body grew 39% and the faculty grew 24% , but the number of managers grew 118%.
The ratio between management and faculty is now nearly 1:1.
If management had grown at the same rate as faculty between 1997 and 2007, the UC system could have saved $800 million dollars during the course of that decade– more than the total cuts in state funding in 2008-10.
Furthermore, since 2007, CSU fees have increased 84% while at the same time the CSU regents have approved nearly $100,000 in compensation increases for San Diego State University president Elliot Hirshman. This raise will be partially paid for by state funds.
This misallocation of funds needs to end! We need to keep the CSU and the UC public, that is to say, invested in delivering an increasingly affordable quality higher education to all Californians.