Occupiers Converge on Capitol Demanding the One Percent Pay Their Share and Help Reduce Tuition Costs

Students-Arriving-to-Capitol

Today, thousands of students and workers will converge on the Capitol in Sacramento, where students and others will call for the one percent to pay to re-fund higher education.  The day is about building on the victories of the fall and holding off future tuition increases in the UC system.

ReFund California, “a state-wide coalition of homeowners, community members, faith leaders and students working to make Wall Street banks pay for destroying jobs and neighborhoods with their greedy, irresponsible and predatory business practices,” has organized the day’s events at the Capitol.

Charlie Eaton, speaking at a press briefing this morning and representing ReFund California, said “Today is a really exciting next step after the events of this fall.”  The group made headlines last fall when they sponsored a week of protests, arguing that it was time for the one percent to pay to re-fund public education.

Mr. Eaton argued that it is time that members of the UC Board of Regents, many of whom are members of the one percent themselves, begin to support making the one percent pay for refunding public education.

“It may huge news,” he said, “when police beat students at UC Berkeley and pepper sprayed students at UC Davis.  But students stayed resolute, they stayed non-violent, and they really changed the debate around funding education in our state from a debate about whether we should have cuts or taxes to a debate about who should pay.”

“It’s no secret for about the last ten years in California,” he added, “it’s students and workers who have paid.”  He cited 300% tuition hikes and massive cuts that have cost jobs for workers.

While the workers and students have suffered, Mr. Eaton argued, “At the same time, corporations have not been paying – the one percent has not been paying for education.  They’ve had tax cuts.”

Bank of America and Wells Fargo – both of whom have people on the Board of Regents at UC – have paid zero percent in net taxes, he argued.

“Now we need the folks in Sacramento to stand with us and support making the one percent pay,” Mr. Eaton said citing the millionaire’s tax as the “concrete alternative” for making the one percent pay.  “It’s really time for the politicians in Sacramento to stand up with us and support that.”

The budget talks begin this week and there will be consideration of another 24 percent tuition hike at UC.  “The funding levels in this budget will force those kinds of tuition hikes,” he said.  “So we’re asking the governor to drop the talks with our universities about a 24 percent tuition hike over four years and to instead support the millionaire’s tax and support a broader budget to make the one percent pay to refund jobs, education, workers, social services.”

Claudia Magana, President of the UC Student Association and student at UC Santa Cruz, said “Students have had enough.  We have been fighting fee increases every year, budget cuts.  We’re paying more and getting less.  That’s why the frustration has built up.”

“I think today is very symbolic of the unity of all three systems coming together, making their statement, and trying to hold our legislators accountable while also making a statement to California as a whole to know that it’s important to say, invest in California’s future and provide educational opportunities for all in California,” she added.

She supported the notion of a “shared burden,” where education would be funded through the initiative that is coming up.

Van Jones, President and Co-Founder of Rebuild the Dream, “I am here for one reason, I am very proud of this young generation and very ashamed of my own.”

He said his generation is throwing the current generation under the bus.

“We are pulling the ladder up behind us and we have got to start putting the ladder back down for these young people,” he said.  “We have young who are graduating every spring off a cliff into no jobs in the worst economy since the Great Depression with unbelievable amounts of student debt.  It’s not fair to them.”

“I am so proud that these young people have begun to try to change the conversation and bring us back to what made California great,” Mr. Jones added.  “California is great because we invested heavily in education and infrastructure.  All the things that have made this state such an easy place to do well and to get wealthy.”

“It is time for wealthy people in California who have been drinking from the well to start replenishing that well.  You can’t just take take, take from California and not give back,” he said.  He argued that the millionaire’s tax would put six billion dollars back into education.

“This is not about punishment or charity, it’s about a return on investment,” he argued. “If you do well in California, you should do well by California and you should be willing to reinvest in this great state that has done well for you.”

Chucho Mendoza, Cal State Fresno student and ReFund California organizer, is driving up with 165 students from Fresno today.

“In the central valley we are very concerned about the conditions of education,” he said.  “Not only are we paying more for education with tuition increases but we’re also suffering budget cuts that’s impacting our quality of education.”

“For the farm working families of the central valley, it’s going to become more and more of a hassle to support their sons and daughter to have that access to an equal education,” he said.

Kathryn Lybarder, President of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employess) Local 3299, said that a good portion of the members of her union are among the lowest paid workers in the UC System.

“What we have seen at the university and higher education institutions is what has happened in the world around us,” she said.  “We have seen a growing gap between the rich and the poor.”

Students and their working parents have been asked to pay more for tuition she said, and so too have the workers been asked to take cuts amid budget cuts.

One of the changes that has occurred is that workers are being asked to wait five years before retiring.  She noted that many of her workers had knee and shoulder surgeries as they have worked over a period of time.

“So when you ask us to wait to retire… what you are asking is for us to donate our bodies to save us from an economic crisis that we didn’t create,” she said.  “Many of us may not be able to work until we’re 65 because our body’s given out.  That means that we retire much poorer in retirement and that burden then falls on the California taxpayer to support us.”

“This is not an exaggeration, this is just the economics of asking working families to take the hit,” she added.

She argued that, while the workers like the security of the budget deal from the standpoint that it locks in pensions, she argued that the fee increase it locks into place is unacceptable.

“It not only hurts the students today and threatens their futures,[ but] it hurts our ability as working families to then be able to pay for college,” she said.  It also puts the future of the workers’ children at risk.  “I have two kids who are talking about wanting to go to Cal one day, it threatens my ability to give them the kind of future that I think they should have and hurts the economy of California for all of us.”

She argued that the millionaire’s tax is a step in the right direction and it puts the burden of restoring the economy on those who have continued to profit from the crisis and have the greatest resources.

Charlie Eaton argued that things have begun to change in the debate over funding, as the terms of the debate have changed from cuts to funding.

“We as a movement realized that we can’t just keep saying, don’t cut us.  Rather we need to change the debate to who should pay and talk about how students and workers have paid so much in the last ten years and in the economic crisis that Wall Street and the one percent caused,” he said.

He noted we have had 300% tuition increases and “at the same time, student debt is higher than credit card debt in this country.”

“When students finish – if they’re able to finish,” he added, “they leave school with very dim job prospects and they leave school with very little hope that they can get the jobs that would enable them to pay off that massive amount of debt.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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18 thoughts on “Occupiers Converge on Capitol Demanding the One Percent Pay Their Share and Help Reduce Tuition Costs”

  1. Frankly

    Those 1% bastards! Let’s tax the crap out of them!

    Then let’s watch these students graduate without job prospects because the tax increases wiped out businesses that could otherwise operate on the margins… and because it sent the owners packing for other low-tax states and countries. Then, with their prestigious degrees and no job prospects, these students will again demand the 1% pay a great share to fund their entitlements. Note the Greek spiral downward?

    What irony… the top 10% of family income is increasingly dominated by the expanded army of government employees enjoying multi-million dollar pension and healthcare benefits. It is these same public-sector employees that are blowing up budgets all over the country and causing strains on education funding. The students have it bass-awkwards. They have made the mistake listening to Obama waging class warfare against successful people. What they should be marching on is the public employee unions and Democrats that have allowed the unions to gorge themselves at the spending trough… that there is less and less left for education.

  2. rusty49

    Watch it now Jeff, the public employee unions are trying to become a protected class as evidenced by the new “Public Employee Bill of Rights Bill”. You might be getting yourself in trouble talking bad about them.

  3. Mr Obvious

    Tax breaks to the middle class cost the government way more than the tax cuts to the wealthy. If the government wan’t more money than let the middle class tax cuts expire.

  4. Frankly

    rusty, LOL! Yes, watch them get protection under hate crime laws. It is amazing how they have managed to maintain their victim-group status while they drain the treasury. The public employee unions are the enemy of the state. They are our single biggest risk for taking down the county. Look at Europe for the proof of where we are going.

    There I got that out before they can sue me!

    Mr Obvious: Yes, that is a point that the Democrats and the left media fails to cover… the fact that taxing the top 1% 100% of their income will not really make a dent in our budget problems. It is just political class warfare. It is what weak leaders do to maintain their power… find some group to blame. Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin do it blaming the US. So, Obama is just one of them… a weak leader pointing a finger of blame at the successful… inspiring hateful class envy instead of inspiring self-determination to rise to the occasion.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    Boone: Your statement is simply untrue because you are thinking federal government not state government. The proposed tax will raise about $6 billion for state government which would probably eliminate the need for a tuition increase.

  6. Frankly

    Greenwald: Middle class tax increases are politically impossible because that is the majority voting block. Tax increases on the wealthy are tyranny of the majority and have little political consequence especially when Democrats have been so successful fomenting class anger.

    The tax increase on those making $1 million or more will not raise $6 billion because it will cause business and wealth to leave the state. Wealthy are not captive to the state. Their wealth makes them mobile. In contrast, the middle class is generally stuck. They are mostly wage-earners that have established financial roots in the state that cannot as easily be migrated.

  7. rusty49

    Jeff, speaking of being careful, another story is really not getting any press. Andrew Breitbart went on record saying he was going to release some damaging tapes about Obama that would change the election and he ends up dying of a heart attack at 12:15 a.m. that same morning. Coincidence? Maybe, but you’d think this would be getting huge press. Supposedly they have people going through his tapes and documents and we can only hope he really did have something that isn’t being tampered with.

  8. Frankly

    rusty: the moment I heard about Andrew Breitbart’s sudden and unexpected passing at age 43, the hair on the back of my neck went up. I’m not a conspiracy theory kinda’ guy, but this one is spooky. The left certainly has reasons to want to see him gone. Also, there is a bit of consistency here… people with information that could be used to incriminate Democrat politicians seem to wind up dead. Remember Vincent Foster?

    Conservatives have is they have lost control of the narrative. The popular political-media story line today is class war with Democrats riding the white horse. The left has done a great job using the economic downturn to tarnish the GOP brand. This is all they have… a giant marketing campaign to ensure the GOP brand continues to be demonized so that Democrats seem the better choice by comparison. Andrew Breitbart was someone that did and could tarnish the Democrat brand. Since brand perception is all liberals have left to run on (nothing on record of accomplishments) it is conceivable that they would deal with the threat more drastically. Bringing this back to topic… one of the problems we have today is that Democrats have too much power over government purse strings. They can increase taxes precisely because they have the political power. What needs to happen is the Democrat brand gets brought back down to where it belongs as being effective only at running the state and country off the cliff and into the ground.

  9. Frankly

    David, we already know we live in difference worlds… or at least see the world through difference glasses.

    Sorry, but I am in a partisan mood today.

  10. medwoman

    Jeff

    “It is what weak leaders do to maintain their power… find some group to blame”

    You mean like blaming liberals for the death of Breitbart ? Well, maybe you are on to something after all !

  11. medwoman

    Jeff

    I am sure that you care about dissemination of faulty information and accusations regardless of your lack of a leadership position.
    So what is your evidence that liberals were implicated ?

  12. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]What they should be marching on is the public employee unions and Democrats that have allowed the unions to gorge themselves at the spending trough… that there is less and less left for education.[/quote]

    Heard that public teachers union in NY get free plastic surgery. Costs NY taxpayers a pretty penny, and yet the schools are in debt up to their eyeballs. Unbelievable!

  13. E Roberts Musser

    Here’s the link: [url]http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/28/buffalo-new-york-teachers-get-free-plastic-surgery_n_1306896.html[/url]

  14. Mr Obvious

    [quote]Heard that public teachers union in NY get free plastic surgery. Costs NY taxpayers a pretty penny, and yet the schools are in debt up to their eyeballs. Unbelievable![/quote]
    Hey wait a minute, healthcare is a right. Who are you to call is unbelievable?

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