Assembly speaker wants to trade tax breaks for scholarships


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Assembly Speaker John Pérez announced Wednesday he will push to end corporate tax breaks in order to lower tuition by two-thirds for middle-class, California students at state universities.

“The pressures of the recession and massive fee increases have eroded, or even ended, the dream of higher education for too many California families,” Pérez (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement. “Now it is time for our state to reinvest in our system of higher education.”


The plan would be financed by canceling $1 billion in tax breaks that benefit large, out-of-state corporations and began in 2009.

The additional revenue would finance scholarships for students whose families make less than $150,000 a year but earn too much to qualify for financial aid. If eligible, California State University students would save $4,000 per year, and University of California students would save about $8,200 per year.

Roughly 150,000 CSU students and 43,000 UC students could be affected by the plan.

Steep budget cuts to higher education have resulted in sharp increases in tuition and fees for California students. Since 2003, CSU fees have jumped 191%, according to the speaker’s office. Pérez said that’s forced middle-class students, who don’t get financial assistance but can’t afford the full price, to take on heavy debt to get their degree.

‘There’s been a real squeeze on the middle class,’ he told reporters.

Pérez said he expects he will be able to secure at least two Republican votes in the Assembly to end the tax break, which requires a two-thirds vote to pass.


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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento