A California Trend Worth Catching: College for All

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(Photo: COD Newsroom / Flickr)

California can be an annoyingly trendy state. Think avocado toast, In-N-Out Burger, Hollywood fashion, even legal pot.

But Californians are now in the vanguard to fix the serious problem of how to pay for public higher education.

Over 44 million households in the U.S. are saddled with college debt — $ 37,000 on average. Together they owe over $ 1.4 trillion, surpassing credit card debt and auto loans.

In the 1970s, California led the world with its famously accessible public universities and community colleges. Millions of Californians received a virtually debt-free college education.

A friend of mine attended both undergraduate and grad school at the University of California in the 1970s and covered all of his tuition and expenses by painting houses during two months of the summer.

That’s not possible anymore. Decades of tax cuts for the wealthy, state budget cuts, and rising tuition and fees have pushed costs much higher — and right onto students and their families.

Between 2011 and 2017, in-state tuition and fees at the University of California rose by nearly a quarter, from $ 10,940 to $ 13,509. Out-of-state costs grew to over $ 40,000.

San Francisco voters took a bold step in 2016 to push back on that trend.

They voted to tax luxury real estate tax transfers, generating over $ 44 million a year from property sales over $ 5 million. The city allocated a portion of this revenue to provide free tuition and stipends to San Francisco Community College, boosting enrollment by 16 percent.

“I jumped at the chance,” said Cynthia Diaz, a San Francisco resident studying early childhood education. “I have less stress juggling work, family, and school.”

Diaz has joined an effort to expand the concept beyond San Francisco. She’s collecting signatures for the California College for All initiative to expand college access for over 2.5 million California students.

If successful, the effort will generate an estimated $ 4 billion a year to invest in public higher education — and greatly reduce tuition and fees. Over 80 percent of the funds will be targeted to students based on need.

Funds will come from restoring a state inheritance tax on Californians with wealth over $ 3.5 million and couples with over $ 7 million. These same households just got a massive tax cut at the federal level, as Congress voted to double the family wealth exempted by the federal estate tax from $ 11 million to $ 22 million.

At a time of extraordinary wealth inequality, taxing wealth to pay for higher education is a powerful idea. If the California initiative passes in November, it will serve as a model to the nation for how to both reduce concentrated wealth and expand college opportunity.

It may sound radical. But the idea basically restores the formula for college access from the post-World War Two era. In the decades between 1945 and 1980, we taxed high incomes and wealth at much more progressive rates and invested in expanding public higher education.

Other states are addressing this problem too.

Tennessee created the Tennessee Promise, a scholarship and mentoring program that provides two years of “last dollar” assistance to college students to fill any gap not provided by Pell Grants. In Michigan, a group of anonymous donors started the Kalamazoo Promise, guaranteeing free tuition to students who graduate from that city’s high schools.

Other states, such as New York and Massachusetts, are moving toward free community college.

But the California solution would be the most comprehensive initiative yet, covering millions more students at all levels of the public education system.

That’s the best idea since beach volleyball and Mickey Mouse.

The post A California Trend Worth Catching: College for All appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

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Labor Secretary Perez’s statement on US Supreme Court ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Labor Secretary Perez’s statement on US Supreme Court ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

WASHINGTONU.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement on today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is an important victory for public employees, for their right to have a voice at work, for their right to stand together and speak up for the things that matter to them, their families and their communities.

“The court’s 4-4 decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association affirms longstanding precedent that, for decades, has enabled teachers, police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, social workers and others to come together and bargain collectively for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

“Unions have enabled public sector employees to secure a foothold in the middle class. But those public servants have faced a powerful headwind in recent years. Despite a robust economic recovery, government employment hasn’t rebounded as private sector jobs have.

“These are our friends and neighbors. They do tough and often thankless work – and they aren’t getting rich doing it. They do so much to give us stronger schools, safer streets and more vibrant communities. In return for their heroic efforts every day to support us, they should be able to support their own families.

“Today’s ruling will mean greater economic stability for millions of families. It’s a critical step toward creating shared prosperity and a balanced economy that works for everyone.”

Release Date: 
03/29/2016
Media Contact Name: 

David Roberts

Phone Number: 
Release Number: 
16-0689-NAT
Override with PDF?: 

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Activists Demand A Bill Of Rights For California Farm Workers – NPR


NPR
Activists Demand A Bill Of Rights For California Farm Workers
NPR
Farm workers in two of the nation's most important agricultural counties joined other low-wage food sector workers on Wednesday, demanding better wages with a new Bill of Rights. The thrust of the bill, which is aimed at workers in Ventura and Santa …

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Activists Demand A Bill Of Rights For California Farm Workers – NPR


NPR
Activists Demand A Bill Of Rights For California Farm Workers
NPR
Farm workers in two of the nation's most important agricultural counties joined other low-wage food sector workers on Wednesday, demanding better wages with a new Bill of Rights. The thrust of the bill, which is aimed at workers in Ventura and Santa …

and more »

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Activists Demand A Bill Of Rights For California Farm Workers – NPR


NPR
Activists Demand A Bill Of Rights For California Farm Workers
NPR
Farm workers in two of the nation's most important agricultural counties joined other low-wage food sector workers on Wednesday, demanding better wages with a new Bill of Rights. The thrust of the bill, which is aimed at workers in Ventura and Santa …

and more »

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNEC9vQjDZW9mkxbzwtXta6Cb6dDzg&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&cid=52779039303490&ei=xh6tVvi0C-HcwAGY0rH4AQ&url=http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/01/29/464758284/activists-demand-a-bill-of-rights-for-california-farm-workers

California to receive $6M in incremental funding to continue temporary employment services to workers affected by California drought

On July 17, 2015, this National Dislocated Worker Grant (NDWG) was approved for up to $ 18 million with $ 3 million released initially. This incremental funding of $ 6 million will bring the total NDWG funds awarded for this project to $ 9 million. The $ 6 million awarded to the California Employment Development Department will provide for the continuation of temporary employment of eligible individuals to assist with the cleanup and recovery efforts related to California’s long-term drought, as well as to provide reemployment services to participants in need of assistance in finding permanent employment. The grant targets 28 counties: Amador, Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Merced, Modoc, Monterey, Nevada, Plumas, San Benito, San Joaquin, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Yolo and Yuba. |||||||http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/ETA20152223.htm

Farmworkers union claims victory in California labor battle – TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press


FederalNewsRadio.com
Farmworkers union claims victory in California labor battle
TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press
Dan Gerawan, who runs the family business in Fresno County, said in a statement that his workers are being denied their democratic rights by leaving the ballots uncounted. Labor relations in agriculture are often highly contentious, said Philip Martin, …
ALRB judge rules against Gerawan Farming in dispute with UFWFresno Bee

all 118 news articles »

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California court rulings send clear message to employers who misclassify workers as ‘independent contractors’

Two recent and very significant legal victories for California workers send a strong message to employers nationwide: if you misclassify your employees, you will face the consequences. |||||||http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/whd/WHD20151324.htm

California Effort to Issue Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants Receives Surge of … – New York Times


New York Times
California Effort to Issue Driver's Licenses to Immigrants Receives Surge of
New York Times
And a bill that would give agricultural workers permits and protect them from deportation, the kind of policy that has historically been in the federal domain, cleared its first legislative hurdle with nearly unanimous support. Huntington Park, a

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Opportunity From California Drought Elusive For Midwest Vegetable Farmers – KRCU


KRCU
Opportunity From California Drought Elusive For Midwest Vegetable Farmers
KRCU
It takes a $ 14,000 vegetable sorter and a $ 400,000 cold storage building. And that's before any work is done. Labor is Daniels' biggest expense. He'll spend anywhere from $ 800,000-$ 1 million on labor, including teams of migrant workers because

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