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LAO on Fees and New Poll on Taxes - Jan. 27, 2011


January 27, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

There are a couple of items I wanted to share with you today. First, the Legislative Analyst Office released its recommendations on community college fees today. The LAO applauds the governor's proposed fee increase and calls for long-term increases in the fee level so students can maximize available federal assistance.

When I see Paul, I will challenge his assertion that only the wealthiest 10% of students have to pay fees, as there are a large number of students with limited documentation (or whose parents have limited documentation) to whom the fee is a legitimate barrier.

Next, we need your help.

In reading the Public Policy Institute of California poll this morning, I was reminded how ill-informed Californians are about their government. In particular, we vastly overestimate what the state government pays for prisons. In today's poll, 45% of Californians say that prisons and corrections is the largest state expenditure.

In fact, prisons is fourth behind K-12 education, health and human services and higher education. While I personally believe we could use funds a lot more wisely in corrections and rehabilitation, we need to inform the public about where the money is really spent.


It's simple. Voters don't like spending money on prisons. Only 17% would support higher taxes for more prison spending. In contrast, they support higher taxes for the "big items" in the budget, like K-12 schools (71% would pay higher taxes), higher education (59%) and health and human services (57%).

As long as we as Californians think that most state government money is spent on prisons, we won't support paying for our government. If we spread the word about where state investments really are, the voters will go along. I hope you'll help by talking to your friends, families and neighbors about the need to have a balanced approach to mitigate cuts to our community colleges.

Finally, there was some good news in the poll. Sixty-seven percent of Californians support Jerry Brown's approach of letting the voters consider tax increases to mitigate budget cuts on a June ballot.

That should send a strong message to those in the Capitol that refuse to let us have the option to vote.


Scott Lay
President and Chief Executive Officer

Community College League of California
2017 O Street, Sacramento, California 95811
916.444.8641 . www.ccleague.org

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Last Updated: 1/27/11