Proposition 30 is essential if SWC is to avoid a catastrophic fiscal meltdown

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Let’s just cut to the chase. Southwestern College desperately needs Proposition 30 to pass. If this very fair, very reasonable initiative were to fail, SWC will lose almost $5 million in state funding from an already decimated 2012-13 budget. Cuts for 2013-14 would be $11.6 million.

That sound in the distance very well may be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. SWC has hobbled along for three years even though it has suffered a whopping $14 million loss of revenue. More than half of the institution’s classes have already been lost and nearly 100 teachers are gone.

SWC’s administration has been preparing for the possibility of a Proposition 30 defeat. Entire programs – including some of the college’s signature attractions – will be eliminated. As many as 100 non-teaching employees face layoffs and, for the first time in the college’s history, tenured professors face elimination along with their programs. Anything that is not speech, English, math or a “golden four” subject is on the table for elimination.

It is time for the irresponsible right-wing chorus crying “cut the fat” to pipe down and pay attention. There is no more fat. Repeat. There is no more fat. All cuts SWC faces will directly injure students by eliminating classes and services. Services, classes and training that have elevated our community for 50 years will be gone.

Proposition 30 consists of two reasonable parts. One is a quarter-cent increase in statewide sales tax over seven years. (This is the equivalent of one extra penny for a Starbucks drink.) The second is a one percent income tax increase for the next four years for people making more than $250,000.

California community college budgets have been slashed by nearly $1 billion since 2008 and will be cut an additional $380 million if Proposition 30 does not pass.

For students throughout California, Proposition 30 will have a greater impact than the election of our next president. Failure of this initiative means fewer seats for South County college-age students and more young people spending their days at home watching Honey Boo Boo or begging for hours at Taco Bell. A community college meltdown, combined with the ever-shrinking number of seats at UC and CSU campuses, paints a grim picture for students in this community, especially minority and working class students.

SWC employees have done their part. All employees took a five percent cut to their income in an effort to maintain the school’s pledge of preserving jobs, salary and classes. It was a nobel action that bought students here a one-year reprieve.

If passed, Proposition 30 would allot community colleges $210 million in restoration funding, enough to keep our heads above water. This would prevent additional class cuts, layoffs and furloughs, and would make room for an additional 20,000 students statewide. If Proposition 30 fails 200,000 fewer students will be served.

An investment in education is an essential for our state’s economy and a healthy society. Our Founding Fathers knew that and so do we. Proposition 30 is a logical, low-cost and vitally important measure that will profoundly effect our future. The Editorial Board of the Southwestern College Sun unanimously endorses Proposition 30. Vote yes for Proposition 30 on Nov. 6.

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