COC Board set to voice support for Prop 55, ‘students vote project’

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The Santa Clarita Community College District (College of the Canyons) Board of Trustees is readied to officially voice its support for Prop 55 and the California Students Vote Project during its joint meeting with the Associated Student Government (ASG) Wednesday.

Proposition 55

A resolution, which will be presented at Wednesday’s meeting, states that the board supports the passage of Prop 55 “because it provides needed revenue to community colleges.”

The proposition will extend the temporary personal tax increase on California’s wealthiest taxpayers first enacted in 2012 by Prop 30.  Prop 55 will uphold the personal tax increase on those who earn more than $250,000 until 2030.

It’s expected to raise $4 billion to $9 billion annually from 2019 to 2030 depending on the economy and stock market, according to a report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

It is said the money raised through taxes will increase funding for schools, community colleges, health care for low-income people, budget reserves and debt payments.

COC’s Board believes the increased tax dollars and funding will enable the district to provide high-quality education programs and services to its community while its student enrollment continues to grow each school year.

“There is quite a range in terms of how much additional revenue would be raised, but the money would be used as it’s designed and that’s to fund instruction at the college,” said Eric Harnish, COC’s vice president of public information, advocacy and external relations.

Prop 55 will also help continue the Education Protection Account created by Prop 30 which increased spending in the community college districts.  Since 2012, COC has received $46.4 million as a result of Prop 30 Education Protection Account funding.

“The community college system was facing some severe funding cuts that were proposed in 2012 so Prop 30 prevented those and allowed us to begin recovering from the cuts that were made during the great recession and bring back classes for students,” Harnish said.

This funding allowed COC to increase the number of full-time, teaching faculty by 16 percent and increase the number of full-time, enrolled students by 12.8 percent since 2012.

California Students Vote Project

During Wednesday’s meeting the board is also expected to adopt a resolution in support of the California Students Vote Project, a state-wide effort encouraging students to register to vote and participate in elections.

In the 2014 general election, only 8.2 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds cast ballots.

The Students Vote Project is aiming to change this narrative and register the approximately 2.3 million students enrolled in the California college system.

For many freshmen at COC, the 2016 general election will be their first opportunity to participate in an election.

“We’re encouraging students to vote and participate in the process,” Harnish said.  “We want to see our students be engaged civically and have a voice in what’s happening.”

The college is encouraging its students to participate in the political process by registering to vote and engage in the community through COC’s Center for Civic Engagement.

“We definitely want to see them take that first and most important step and register to vote,” Harnish said.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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