GCC officials, students support effort to extend tax on wealthy Californians for schools

Glendale Community College's board of trustees recently passed a resolution in support of a ballot initiative that would extend the number of years that income-tax revenue from wealthy Californians would flow to community colleges and K-12 schools.

David Viar, the college's superintendent/president, lauded the initiative, known as the Children's Education and Healthcare Protection Act of 2016, which would extend Proposition 30's temporary income-tax increase on wealthy residents for 12 more years.

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As a result, community colleges and K-12 schools would have access to anywhere from an estimated $8 billion to $11 billion more per year, according to a college report.

The revenue would be collected between 2019 and 2030 from California's wealthiest individual taxpayers who earn more than $250,000 per year or from couples who bring in more than $500,000 annually.

"I believe it's important to have community college leaders help educate the public about the potential effects of a reduction in 2019 of state revenue available to the community college [system] and to Glendale Community College," Viar said during a trustee meeting earlier this month.

The board of trustees unanimously approved the resolution, and fellow college officials are still working to collect some of the 585,407 signatures needed to place the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

"Every signature counts," said Zohara Kaye, president of the college's faculty guild.

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During the current fiscal year, she added, Glendale Community College received about $13 million from Proposition 30.

Voters approved the measure in November 2012 to the relief of college officials who say that without the sales and income-tax-revenue boost, their financial recovery after the recession would have been even more dire.

After Proposition 30 passed, Glendale Community College was able to offer more classes and hire additional full-time faculty, Viar said.

Months prior to its passage in February 2012, the college had made significant budget cuts and had implemented a purchasing freeze where only the most critical purchases were authorized.

Over the course of about 18 months in 2011 and 2012, the college had reduced the number of summer classes it offered, eliminated its winter session and reduced pay for its management, faculty and classified employees.

Faculty members had also been offered early-retirement incentives.

Now, with the sales tax revenue from Proposition 30 expected to sunset in 2016, college officials point to a growing expectation that if the income tax portion of Proposition 30 is not extended, the state budget will come up $6 billion short in the first year, according to the college report.

"We all know, we all remember, before passing Proposition 30, where we were," said Saodat Aziskhanova, president of the classified employees union, as she rallied trustees to support the resolution.

The college's student body president, Christine Ovasapyan, said she and fellow student leaders will encourage other students to register to vote because only registered voters can provide supporting signatures.

"This affects us — the students — the most. It's all of our jobs to take initiative to make this happen," she said.

If the item is placed on the ballot and passes, and only after the state meets all education funding requirements, remaining income-tax revenue would provide up to $2 billion in Medi-Cal funding for low-income children and their families, according to the college's faculty guild.

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Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

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