Stop the War on Youth

We’re being screwed over by Washington, Wall Street and of course, California’s budget deficit crisis. Governor Jerry Brown’s latest projected budget deficit has increased to $16 billion, which is much larger than the $9.2 billion estimated in January. Because of the larger than expected budget deficit, Governor Brown is proposing new cuts to UCs, cuts to Cal Grants, more cuts to Health and Human Services, 1.5 fewer weeks of K-12 school each year and four-day work weeks at state government offices. All of this is undoubtedly brutal for youth.

Governor Brown’s new tax initiative will tax those in the top income bracket and increase the state’s sales tax to raise $9 billion in tax revenue. If this measure fails, Brown is suggesting a $250 million to be cut in state funding from UC and the California State University. Community colleges would lose almost $300 million. UC Regent Patrick Lenz, dubbed the “UC budget czar” by some media outlets, told the rest of the regents during last Wednesday’s meeting that if they consider a 6 percent fee increase, it should be done no later than July in order to prepare for the projected $250 million cut in state funding. A 6 percent increase would add $732 to the already $12,192 tuition fee. As a group, the Regents have not endorsed the tax measure, but individual members support it.

Across the county, youth are standing up and saying: college is unaffordable, we don’t have jobs and the environment is getting worse. We’ve been shut out and told to shut up. It’s time to take back what is ours from government officials and fight to protect our futures. We need to make youth issues around the country a priority. This election cycle doesn’t work for or donate to a candidate who may or may not help you once they get to Washington; work with an organization that is directly fighting for what you want. Candidates need to know the stakes if they choose to side against the youth. Your voice and actions will send that message loud and clear.

Arguably, the two most important student issues are college affordability and the youth unemployment rate. We need loan forgiveness, caps on student loan interest rates, student loan refinancing opportunities, comprehensive calls to decrease tuition and increases in federal Pell grants. We also need investments in job creation and support for startups, pledges to hire the young, help for the youth buying homes and saving for retirement, and a raise in the minimum wage (adjusted for inflation).

All of these ideas thrown out will only be heard if thousands of us pledge together to fight against education cuts, rising tuition and unemployment after graduation. We need to send a signal that candidates across the state and country can’t afford to ignore. But it only works if we all play a part. Our futures depend on it.

 

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