Letters to the Editor
Proposed State Budget
In recent days I have read numerous articles trying to bash Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget plan, but while not perfect there are numerous blatantly false statements which, many critics including last weeks New U. editorial perpetuate.
While critics call for tax increases they fail to acknowledge that Gray Davis increased spending over 40 percent while population and inflation only increased about 21 percent and state revenue increased 25 percent. Clearly as Schwarzenegger emphasizes we have a spending problem not a revenue problem.
When state spending on worker’s compensation triples in five years, community colleges offer classes at taxpayer expense that don’t exist, and the state mandates school districts to use non-competitive contracts, and when California is the only state that pays retail for wheelchairs, is it any wonder that the state is in a spending crisis?
While many criticize plans that don’t make significant increases in K-12 spending few mention that California’s teachers are the best paid in the country. The problem that the state has is that schools have too little discretionary funding.
As the Sacramento Bee reported last year the state has over a hundred categorical funds for schools some are for as trivial things as student councils. Categorical programs can only be spent on very specific purposes and hence if you have money for technology this money can’t be transferred into anything else! If categorical funds were converted into discretionary funds as Schwarzenegger wants than school districts would have more local control to spend funds as their district needs instead of the state micromanaging them.
One other myth about California that is being perpetuated is that property taxes in California are stuck at one percent of purchase forever. In reality your property tax may increase up to two percent annually over the previous year.
Another myth is that California’s income tax is not progressive.
This is also false because as the legislative analyst notes California has a very progressive income tax system that starts at one percent and increases to 9.3.
While some have proposed creating a new tax bracket for the wealthy, this wouldn’t even cover the VLF reduction.
The legislative analyst only estimates $2.6 billion in revenue and this may be rather optimistic considering that in the early 90s similar estimates didn’t materialize. Not only did the estimate fall short, but revenue fell and the state economy continued to be stuck in a recession into 1994 while the rest of the country started a recovery. History doesn’t bode well for the tax proponents.
We could also increase alcohol taxes, but this would strangle California’s wine industry making the tax pointless. We could also increase sales tax, but it is a regressive tax and hurts retail.
Another proposal on the table is increasing college fees and capping enrollment. The critics (liberals like Manuel Gomez) have already charged that this will reduce accessibility, but this is questionable.
Students will be affected by this budget, but not the students whose parents make $25K a year who will almost certainly have their share of the fee increase paid through the 20 percent of the new revenues that go towards financial aid. Why should a wealthy Newport Beach millionaire’s kid pay only 6K a year for his kids tuition at a UC campus when the actual education costs approximately 20K a year?
Low tuition subsidizes the wealthy, not the poor!
On the topic of enrollment caps it should be noted that UC actually admitted too many students last year and that the board predicts that the state admitted the top 13.3 percent and not the top 12.5 percent. The proposed caps merely bring the state back below the 12.5 percent that the master plan calls for. Due to stagnant test scores of California high school students despite costly reforms it seems foolish to propose increasing admission rates above what the master plan calls for.
It is ridiculous that the New U. suggests raising property taxes and rearranging income tax brackets as solutions to California’s economic shortcomings.
Why should those who own property or those who have higher incomes be any more responsible for California’s economic woes than students?
Suckwallet students who feed at the public trough, such as those students who receive state aid and low income housing, are probably more responsible for California’s economic situation than the citizens of this state who have jobs and own property.
Property owners and high-income workers actively contribute to the economy while students on the dole consume state resources.
Moreover, higher property taxes lead to higher rents, and we all know the rents in Orange County are already unbelievably high.
The truth of the matter is, because the citizens of this state elected late governor Gray Davis to office, the citizens of this state must absorb the consequences of his term and the burden of rebuilding California’s economy should fall equally on everyone, not just students or property owners.
Also, forcing the UC to operate on a limited budget will likely increase the quality of education. Operating on a limited budget will force the UC to properly allocate funds to where they are needed most and hopefully terminate programs and spending that are unnecessary.
ASUCI Officers Respond
As student representatives of ASUCI it is important to ensure that our constituents receive correct and truthful explanations of factors that directly affect their student fees and life on campus.
The past January 20, 2004 article entitled ‘ASUCI Officers Explain the Allocation of Student Fees’ lacked much factual information and was based primarily on the opinions of a past ASUCI officer who had no direct involvement in the funding allocation processes.
ASUCI Student Programming and external budget funding are designed and utilized with the purpose to help facilitate individual students and student organizations initiate programs and events that will enhance the quality of student life on the UCI campus.
In this current academic year alone $87,621 was distributed amongst over 30 very diverse UCI organizations to fund nearly 60 various events in our external budgeting process. These were given to the organizations which submitted a completed request on time.
The external budgeting hearings included all five of the current ASUCI executive officers as well as the outgoing and incoming Chairs of Finance for ASUCI.
Student Programming is another available avenue for UCI organizations to get funding for specific events or programs which have not previously been awarded money for in the external budgeting processes.
This committee which is comprised of the ASUCI president, his administrative assistant, and the four committee chairs of legislative council, hold hearings throughout the year on a weekly basis depending on the completed applications received.
In fall quarter 2003 alone, $3,022 has been allocated to various organizations to host their events.
For both budgeting processes the only organizations that have not been awarded money has been due to facts such as, but not limited to, not turning the applications in on time, requesting money for an event or program that cannot be funded by virtue of ASUCI’s budgeting guidelines in accordance with the university, and for events where significant income is generated.
Clubs and organizations that have been funded range from numerous multicultural, religious, greek, social, and academic clubs such as AED, HipHop Congress, Live Nude People, American Indian Student Association, Muslim Student Union, Irvine Queers, Kababayan, Student Media Board, Hillel, Gay Straight Alliance, Hawaii Club, MEChA, African Student Union, and Amnesty International, just to name a few.
Regardless of club size or years present on campus, each program is evaluated in the exact uniform process.
ASUCI President Sammi Shaaya and myself, the current ASUCI chair of student programming are not only current officers but also both former chairs of finance. The current Executive Vice President Christina Gagnier is the former Chair of Student Programming.
The executives and council chairs that participate in the budgeting processes all have experience and are very knowledgeable in what they are elected to do. Every one of us in ASUCI including the execs, legislative council, judicial board, and ASUCI commissioners have been and always will be held accountable to the decisions we make.
Those are the facts. ASUCI is fully public in the budgeting processes and everything else that we do. The complete list of all the organizations funded can be seen by request through any ASUCI executive.
Every one in ASUCI holds office hours and can easily be reached by email for questions, interviews and information.
We are elected by the student body to serve the student body and fully promote the future support to all UCI clubs and organizations.
Administrative Assistant, Office of the President
Associated Students, UCI