By Christopher Johnson |Staff Writer|
The bill, AB 1326, was proposed in the California Assembly with the goal of creating an oil and gas severance tax on California oil producers in order to fund higher education for public schools.
This bill will create the California Higher Education Endowment Corporation (CHEEC) in state government which will then annually give the money gained to all three branches of higher education within the state, according to the AB 1326 bill.
The CSU Board of Trustees met on May 10 with representatives from the UC to request that changes be made to the bill to better protect and utilize the funding source for the benefit of the students, according to Erik Fallis, public affairs and media relations specialist.
The CSU has found three key issues in the wording of the bill that must be addressed before their support is gained, according to the assembly bill response letter.
First, they want the funds to be spent on all programs and services offered on campuses, not just direct classroom instruction and direct student services as the bill states.
Second, they would like to have the funds as additional income to the state’s general fund, and not as a replacement.
As it stands there is no guarantee that legislatures and governors will honor a commitment to add resources for higher education rather than substitute general funds with the tax revenues.
Finally, the bill proposes having a separate administrative group distribute the tax revenues to each segment.
The CSU believes that the funds should be allocated equally between the three segments directly.
They do not see a reason to have the proposed board assume that responsibility, and believe that it would further complicate the budgeting process.
If the bill is amended to suit the needs of CSUs and UCs, then support towards it will come without hesitation.
If the bill is passed it will take effect immediately, and the amount of money colleges stand to receive will be 12.5 percent of the gross value of the product, according to the AB 1326 bill.
Currently, the California school budget has taken a $500 million dollar cut (see Eric Sanchez’s article on Pg. X), with the possibility of reaching $1 billion in the near future, according to Mike Uhllenkamp, spokesperson for the CSU.
CSU Chancellor and Vice President are scheduled to meet on Tuesday May 24, in Sacramento to discuss the matter further.