The events of Nov. 18 are still fresh on the minds of the UC Davis community. Similarly, what the protesters are standing for, lower tuition and more state funding toward higher education, is still a hot-button issue in California. Therefore, it’s time we take productive steps toward ensuring our goals for more state funding toward higher education.
Luckily, California is one of the easiest states to get laws passed without going through Sacramento. By means of direct democracy, any organization or group of people can get any proposition or initiative on the general election ballot without the approval of the state legislature or governor. If the ballot initiative is passed, it acts like a law just as if it came from Sacramento.
In order to get anything on the ballot, organizers need to get 480,000 signatures of registered voters. The deadline is 131 days prior to the statewide election. This can seem like a daunting number, but it’s by no means unreachable. Given the right amount of time and resources, we can get something on the ballot relating to state funding of higher education.
According to the UC Office of the President, there are 234,464 students, 18,896 faculty, 189,116 staff members and over 1,600,000 living alumni, which totals over 2 million people to possibly support the petition.
This is a real, practical way to make substantial change to the state of California and how it views higher education. Because getting something on the ballot only involves signatures, it eliminates the gridlock that could ensue if the measure were to go through Sacramento.
Some possible ballot initiatives could include capping tuition, reforming the UC Regent selection process or mandating more state funding toward state education. These are measures that could have strong support among California voters.
Along the same lines, it is budget season in California, meaning it’s almost time for our representatives to vote on Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed 2012-13 budget. In his proposal, Brown would cut $444 million dollars of state funding toward higher education. This, compounded with the trigger cuts put in place last December, means less and less money for the UC system.
We can write, call, Facebook, tweet or visit our local representatives in Sacramento and continue to remind them that cutting from higher education is unacceptable.
There are a few, effective ways for non-politicians to enact change in California. It’s time we take advantage of them and keep pushing for our cause. And don’t forget, Sacramento is just a short trip away. The longer we wait to take action, the more our movement will lose attention.