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LAist Guide to the Primary: Proposition 92

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While the presidential election is the sexy supermodel on the Feb. 5 California Primary ballot, there are important propositions asking you to say Yes or No when you walk in to that polling place or mail in your vote.

Winston Churchill once said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." Last week we looked at Prop 91, this week, allow us the pleasure of opening your minds to the wonderful world of Proposition 92, known in some circles as The California Community College Initiative. Now if that don't sound like a sonata written by angels, then I don't want to know what does.

After the jump, complete analysis and how many millions of dollars have already been spent trying to get you to vote Yes or No. Plus: Do you care?

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What it says:

  • Prop. 92 would change funding requirements, splitting up state spending on education into two categories: one for K-12 and the other for community colleges.
  • More importantly, 92 would lower community college fees to $15 a unit and would, in turn, severely limit the state's authority to increase fee levels in future years.
  • The proposition would also increase the size of the community colleges' state governing board and the board's administrative authority.

Current Law:

  • Now, the state must provide a minimum level of funding for, in essence, K-14 education. Some say this is unfair to the community college's because they get short changed. Each year, the formula for dividing up who gets what is changed to reflect the previous year's economy and K-12 (not community college) attendance. (The state doesn't care whether or not you show up to your JC classes. You're an adult, damnit.)

How would it change your life?

  • According to state figures, attendance at K-12 schools is expected to decline in the next few years. However, the young adult population (17-25) is expected to grow between two and three percent for the next several years. This could increase attendance at community colleges and, thus, extra funds are needed. So, if you are a prospective community college student your fees could be reduced starting fall 2008.

Financial impact on you, the tax payer:

  • State officials estimate that 92 could cost taxpayers $300 million per year in additional K-14 education.
  • Also, them two-year beacons to education would lose out on revenue from lessened fees. In 2007-08, student fees are projected to provide about $285 million in revenue to community colleges. If 92 passes, the community colleges can expect to collect about $70 million less in annual student fee revenue.
  • As for the community college governing board proposal, it would have no fiscal impact on taxpayers, but does give them more authority over how funds are spent.

Who supports it?


The community colleges. Duh. Specifically, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges and the California Community College Trustees. Though these all sound like variations of the same thing, each one represents a (somewhat) different entity of the CC system. Sort of like how Burnt Siena is a shade of brown. Oh, and the California Federation of Teachers also hopes 92 passes.


  • Trying to steal the rug out from under the opposition, the Yes on 92 folks say the proposition will not raise taxes, but simply lower fees.
    They mention that in 2004, the California Legislature increased fees to $26 per unit, which resulted in 305,000 fewer Californians enrolling in community college. "That hurt California," they said.
  • An increase in community college attendance could increase the median wage for Californians, they say.
    Community college students who earned a vocational degree or certificate see their wages jump from $25,600 to $47,571 three years after earning their degree. (Yes on Proposition 92)

How much they've spent trying to tell you to vote Yes?

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Who opposes it?


Business people, such as the California Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Action Committee, the California Taxpayers' Association, the California Business Roundtable and, interestingly enough, the California Teachers Association.

Naysayers of 92 all point out that they love education as much as the next guy, but that this isn't the right way or the right time to bring about change.

"Proposition 92 expands bureaucracy, but contains no accountability or independent oversight, and requires no public audits. There will be no way to know how the Prop. 92 money is spent," No on Proposition 92 folks said.

That claim is gaining traction among some who claim that the state cannot possibly promise more money as Gov. Schwarzenegger is set to declare a fiscal emergency tomorrow.

How much have they spent trying to get you to vote No?

Who's wining so far?

  • It's hard to say so far as no public opinion polls have been conducted on Prop. 92.

What do you think?

Flickr image of "VOTE" via d.rex; Flickr image of Cambridge via Sir Cam