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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New Report Shows Utility Tax-Dodging Worth Billions

Utilities companies pay the lowest effective tax rate of any U.S. business sector, and in 2015 this tax-dodging added up to billions in lost revenue that could’ve been used to fight climate change, according to a just-released report by the Institute for Policy Studies.

The report, Utilities Pay Up, provides detailed information on the 40 publicly held utilities that were profitable in 2015. Key findings:

Utilities Are Even Better at Tax-Dodging than Multinationals

  • The utilities industry pays the lowest effective federal tax rate of any business sector. Of the 40 U.S. publicly held utilities companies that were profitable in 2015, 23 paid no federal income taxes and 16 paid no state taxes.
  • The most extreme example of utilities tax-dodging in 2015 was Southern Company, a fierce Clean Power Plan opponent, which reaped $ 210 million in federal and state tax refunds, despite $ 3.6 billion in pre-tax income.
  • The industry’s low IRS bills are largely due to depreciation tax breaks. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the 23 profitable utilities that paid no federal taxes in 2015 reported $ 11.5 billion in benefits from special tax rules that allow corporations to write off the cost of their investments faster than they wear out.

Revenue Potential from Fair Taxation of Utilities Companies

  • If the 40 profitable utilities had paid the average rate retailers pay, they would’ve paid more than $ 11.7 billion in additional federal taxes. At the state level, if these firms had paid the statutory rate, they would’ve paid an estimated additional $ 2.3 billion— for a total of $ 14.1 billion in additional federal and state revenue.

Energy Efficiency Costs that Could be Covered by Fairly Taxing Utilities

  • The $ 14.1 billion in extra revenue that could have been generated through fair taxation would be enough to create more than 88,000 energy efficiency jobs or weatherize homes for up to 3 million low-income families.

“Our corporate tax system is so broken that large, profitable utilities get away with not paying their fair share and instead channel money into fighting regulation to protect families and the planet from pollution. It’s time for utilities to pay up,” notes Janet Redman, IPS Climate Policy Director and a co-author of the report.

“Domestic U.S. utilities are even better at tax-dodging than the multinationals,” said Sarah Anderson, IPS Global Economy Director and another report co-author. “If we denied these firms costly and ineffective tax breaks, we could substantially increase investment in sustainable job creation and energy efficiency.”

The 21-page report and related graphics are available at http://www.ips-dc.org/utilities-pay-up/. For more information, contact: sarah@ips-dc.org or janet@ips-dc.org

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS-DC.org) has conducted path-breaking research on corporate tax-dodging and financing for a clean energy transition for more than a decade.  Recent related reports have received significant media coverage, including in The GuardianCBS, and Yahoo Finance. IPS also provides a constant stream of inequality analysis and solutions through the website Inequality.org.

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The post New Report Shows Utility Tax-Dodging Worth Billions appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Janet Redman directs the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Starbucks’ Deforestation-Free Pledge Not Worth Beans – Huffington Post


Huffington Post
Starbucks' Deforestation-Free Pledge Not Worth Beans
Huffington Post
Starbucks has a bigger problem than the controversy over its new red holiday cup. It's still buying palm oil and other agricultural products that might be linked to tropical forest destruction, and a coalition of science, environmental and labor

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Starbucks’ Deforestation-Free Pledge Not Worth Beans – Huffington Post


Huffington Post
Starbucks' Deforestation-Free Pledge Not Worth Beans
Huffington Post
Starbucks has a bigger problem than the controversy over its new red holiday cup. It's still buying palm oil and other agricultural products that might be linked to tropical forest destruction, and a coalition of science, environmental and labor

and more »

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=ca&usg=AFQjCNGD_1zGyAjh1XpDR71aiD80MHFnQg&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&cid=52779010170765&ei=OkiIVvjyIK-awgHWkYHIBQ&url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elliott-negin/starbucks-deforestation-f_b_8824174.html

Michigan’s deal with Nike worth $169 million, $79 million more than any other … – The Michigan Daily

Michigan's deal with Nike worth $ 169 million, $ 79 million more than any other
The Michigan Daily
The highlight of the agreement is that Michigan will receive $ 169 million over the duration of the 15-year contract, including $ 76.8 million in cash alone, $ 12 million in upfront money and $ 80.2 million in apparel. The deal blows past the 10-year, $ 90

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Michigan’s deal with Nike worth $169 million, $79 million more than any other … – The Michigan Daily

Michigan's deal with Nike worth $ 169 million, $ 79 million more than any other
The Michigan Daily
The highlight of the agreement is that Michigan will receive $ 169 million over the duration of the 15-year contract, including $ 76.8 million in cash alone, $ 12 million in upfront money and $ 80.2 million in apparel. The deal blows past the 10-year, $ 90

and more »

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNGNocKCxbDI28W0ojhhtakbQyEOSg&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&cid=52778902357486&ei=niq0VfC5Jq6qwQHwv7HACQ&url=http://www.michigandaily.com/sports/full-nike-details-released

Michigan’s deal with Nike worth $169 million, $79 million more than any other … – The Michigan Daily

Michigan's deal with Nike worth $ 169 million, $ 79 million more than any other
The Michigan Daily
The highlight of the agreement is that Michigan will receive $ 169 million over the duration of the 15-year contract, including $ 76.8 million in cash alone, $ 12 million in upfront money and $ 80.2 million in apparel. The deal blows past the 10-year, $ 90

and more »

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNHN0ZZFM5bX9b5jDi2t1gqD4kwgqQ&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&cid=52778902357486&ei=DvOqVYjoFMz1wAG87IDYAQ&url=https://www.michigandaily.com/sports/full-nike-details-released

Worth its salt: Poland’s Wieliczka Mine is no substitute for Doritos, but it … – National Post


National Post
Worth its salt: Poland's Wieliczka Mine is no substitute for Doritos, but it
National Post
And next time you make a dreary crack after lunch about having “to get back to the salt mines,” keep in mind what actual miners accomplished at the Wieliczka Salt Mine, 20 minutes outside the Polish city of Krakow, a thoroughly charming place that went

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Billions worth of EU imports linked to illegal deforestation – TheParliamentMagazine.eu


TheParliamentMagazine.eu
Billions worth of EU imports linked to illegal deforestation
TheParliamentMagazine.eu
In Papua New Guinea – "one of the world's largest exporters of tropical timber" – it was revealed that "90 per cent" of forest clearance licenses "were obtained through fraudulent or corrupt means". This can mean a license being granted without the

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Salt Suite Opens in Lake Worth – Boca Raton (blog)


Boca Raton (blog)
Salt Suite Opens in Lake Worth
Boca Raton (blog)
Salt therapy [was] developed in the salt mines in Poland, where [it was] found the salt mine workers rarely got sick nor suffered from respiratory conditions. We are recreating that salt mine environment. Salt therapy is still very new to the U.S.. BM

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