The Middle Class Scholarship Act (AB 1501) died on the Senate floor, Aug. 31, with a final vote of 22-15, five votes less than was required for passage.
The bill was estimated to cost California $1 billion annually and would have been funded by mandating the Selected Sales Factor tax formula, thus closing a tax loophole that allows out-of-state companies to pay less in taxes than in-state corporations.
The scholarship addressed ongoing tuition raises and programs which now cater mostly to families of working-class income because of budget cuts, such as Cal Grant. It guaranteed a two-thirds deduction in school fees for students of middle-class families (families with a household income of $150,000 or less) and would have covered about 42,000 UC students and 150,000 California State University (CSU) students during all four years of education.
The University of California Student Association (UCSA) was a strong proponent of the bill and held multiple rallies this year to garner student support.
UCSA President Angélica Salceda explained that although the bill did not pass, students will continue pushing for accessible education. “UC students advocated and fought relentlessly for the Middle Class Scholarship and their efforts should be recognized despite the Senate’s failure to muster enough votes to protect students and families. Out-of-state corporations derailed the Middle Class Scholarship in the late hour of the night but they will never derail the strength and power of students to continue advocating for affordable, accessible and quality education,” she said in an e-mail interview.
California Governor Jerry Brown also released a statement Sept. 1, stating that this is not the end for middle-class scholarships.
“Speaker Pérez deserves special credit for leading the way to end tax loopholes and fund middle-class scholarships. We’re not finished yet and we’re going to work together to get it done,” the release stated.
— Muna Sadek