With the second year of Lobby Month coming to an end, ASUCD’s Lobby Corps students have made their way into the California state Capitol.
Lobby Corps, ASUCD’s external advocacy unit, lobbies on behalf of student issues to the nearby state government in Sacramento. Lobby Month occurs around the time of the May budget revision, in which state budget numbers are tweaked after the original budget is passed.
With California’s tight budget this year, the group took a different approach to better appeal to legislature.
“Our original intent was to go in and ask legislature to prioritize the UC in the budget,” said Talia MacMath, director of Lobby Corps. “This year with the budget crisis we’ve changed tactics a bit and decided instead of asking for money, we’re supporting a package of legislation so that the money that we do have is spent in an efficient, fair and transparent way.”
Elle Segal, internal director of Lobby Corps, said that UC alumni and staffers within the Capitol say Lobby Corps is the most present student group at the Capitol. To her knowledge, she does not know of any other universities with other student groups present.
“It gives legislature a face to look at instead of just a number,” Segal said. “You go in there and say, ‘Hey, I’m a college student, I support this, this affects me.‘”
Lobby Corps recently spoke at the hearing for the Senate Education Committee regarding Senate Bills 217 and 386. SB 217 deals with limiting compensation for administrators of California community and state schools, suggesting that the UC do the same. SB 386 requires that professors assess a cost-benefit analysis in requesting a new edition of a textbook compared with the old edition.
MacMath and Hannah Krishner from Lobby Corps gave a two-minute speech regarding the bills, both of which passed within the committee.
ASUCD Senator Justin Patrizio also spoke on behalf of AB 53, written by state Representative Anthony Portantino. The bill would freeze salaries exceeding $150,000 for all state employees to “ensure we will successfully surmount the state’s current budget issues,” according to an e-mail from Lobby Corps.
“Many people oftentimes don’t realize that our fees are raised because we get less money [from the state legislature]. If we want to take a stand on these fee increases, the state level is the place to do it,” MacMath said.
Chris Lewis, internal assistant director of Lobby Corps emphasized that passing ASUCD Senate resolutions is a way to demonstrate student support on certain issues.
“It shows that we have documentation saying that we as students of UCD have come to a consensus on this issue and support it,” Lewis said. “As student representatives of Davis, we can then honestly go to these people and say that we believe in these principles such as regent transparency, stopping pay raises and budget deficit.”
Around 20 students participate in Lobby Corps‘ Lobby Month, with weekly meetings held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the ASUCD Conference Room in the Memorial Union.
Student participants go through a training process at meetings prior to lobbying at the Capitol. Students are usually given an issue, asked to do research and decide whether to defend or attack the issue. During Lobby Month, the focus remains on bill education.
To get involved, MacMath encouraged students to attend Lobby Corps meetings, Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the MU’s ASUCD Conference Room.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.