Saturday, Nov. 03, 2012
John Spevak: Make it a point to vote, especially for Prop. 30
Tuesday is one of the most important days of the year.
I know many Americans might not agree with me on the importance of Election Day. Maybe they feel their vote doesn't count or the candidates aren't appealing enough. Maybe they just don't want to be bothered.
But a quick glance at current global events shows how many people around the world are willing to risk injury, prison or even death for their right to vote.
Imagine if Americans were prohibited from voting. I think almost all of us would be ready to take to the streets.
I'm not sure how many people will get to their polling place on Tuesday. I hope a large number.
For one thing, voters in Los Banos are fortunate to have good choices among the candidates for school board, city council and mayoral positions. I believe our local candidates are good people who have in mind the best interests of their city and schools.
As most of my readers know, I maintain neutrality as a columnist regarding political candidates. I also usually have little to say about statewide propositions. But this year I'm making an exception. I'm urging my readers to vote yes on Proposition 30.
I have always been a strong advocate for education, from kindergarten through college. Recently, I've seen budget cuts seriously impact local schools. In particular, as an adjunct instructor at the Los Banos Campus of Merced College, I have seen how financial reductions have hurt students.
I have had to tell prospective students trying to enroll in my classes that there was no room for them, not only in my class but in any other class they need. I've seen the discouragement on the faces of those turned away, students between the ages of 17 and 57 looking for a new or renewed start in their lives.
Proposition 30 will help, not so much to increase class opportunities, but to prevent more classes from being canceled. Every additional class cut means fewer people pursuing the American dream of getting a better education and pursuing careers which pay a living wage.
At Merced College, including both the Merced and Los Banos campuses, more than a 100 classes tentatively scheduled for this spring will be canceled if Proposition 30 is defeated.
A statement like this is not a scare tactic but simply the inevitable result of sensible fiscal management. A community college cannot spend money it doesn't have and remain solvent and viable. It can't offer classes that are not funded. Similar problems are faced by other community colleges and other segments of California public education.
The additional tax proposed by Proposition 30 -- which would raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent for the next four years and would raise income taxes for seven years on those making more than $250,000 annually -- is not unreasonable if it helps keep community and university classes open and prevents further reductions in kindergarten through 12th education.
If voters do not approve Proposition 30, the state would need to cut $5.4 billion from education. Kindergarten through 12th grade schools could, and probably would, cut 15 more days from the school calendar.
Public universities would have to raise tuition again. Community colleges would have to cut essential services as well as classes.
We've all heard about the need for continued economic recovery and for more jobs. We've also heard the jobs of the future will require more education and training.
It seems to be cruel to cut courses now at the Los Banos Campus, at the Merced College campus, and at other community colleges throughout the state, preventing new, continuing and returning students from getting the education and training they need to be competitive in the current and future job market.
Likewise, it would be sad to see grade and high school students receiving fewer days of education at a time when they should be getting more.
I would therefore encourage you, dear reader, first of all to please vote this Tuesday. And second, if you find it in your mind and heart to do so, please vote yes on Proposition 30.
Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for 29 years, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.