Monday, May 10, 2010

Tax aims to help colleges

May 10, 2010, 03:30 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

A $34 annual parcel tax could mean more classes and keeping jobs at three community colleges in San Mateo County, however those opposing Measure G argue it’s an unfair levy on residents who largely do not use the school services.

The San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees put Measure G on the June 8 ballot as a way to counter millions in cuts. With people asking for certain services to be saved, the board argued it was the community’s opportunity to support those who would otherwise be lost. If passed, the four-year tax would generate about $6 million annually for the district, said District CFO Kathy Blackwood. It requires two-thirds approval to pass. Those opposed, however, argue the taxation is unneeded and unfair.

Harland Harrison, chair of the Libertarian Party of San Mateo County, described the measure as a slippery slope, the first of its kind to come from a community college district.

The San Mateo County Libertarian Party, along with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Californians for Property Rights and Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association are opposing the measure,

Simply put, the groups believe schools should live within the budget and charge those actually using services for any additional needs.

“Community colleges should be able to sell their services right now,” Harrison said noting the increased demand and value for higher education compared to four-year university options.

Measure G supporters, on the other hand, point the millions in cuts handed down from the state resulting in less options for students and therefore less jobs in a time when people need training.

“I look at it as an investment in the workforce,” said Virginia Chang Kiraly, state commissioner for economic development who lives in the area.

The measure is bridge funding, she said, noting there is a need right now for skilled workers. And with people losing their jobs, training for other professions is needed, said Chang Kiraly.

“They are serving the most people with the least amount of money,” she said comparing the per pupil spending in community college versus state colleges or universities.


Posted by Steve Sinai

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