Politics

CSU applicants to receive tax initiative warning letter

Monday, September 17, 2012

A controversial letter could be going out to hundreds of thousands of potential Cal State University students warning about dire consequences if Proposition 30, the state tax increase, doesn't pass this November. However, critics say that is illegal.

High school and transferring community college students applying to a California State University campus this fall may get a warning instead of an early acceptance letter; there may not be room for them if Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure, Prop 30, fails.

In a draft scheduled to be emailed beginning next month, CSU points out the system is scheduled to get a $250 million dollar mid-year cut if Prop 30 fails in November, so it will wait for the election outcome before accepting students.

"Our enrollment could very well have to be reduced because of potential budget cuts," said CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp. "So we're just trying to inform students that we'll be holding on to applications."

But critics say there's an underlying political message in that letter -- vote 'Yes' on Prop 30 and the chances of you getting a seat at CSU increase.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association fired off a letter saying that's illegal. "California law is very clear that taxpayer funds cannot be used for political advocacy," said the association's Jon Coupal. "When they specifically reference Prop 30 and the revenue that it would provide, then they've crossed the line."

CSU denies any political motivation, saying they're just trying to level with students. In fact, the draft email currently has a link to the arguments against Prop 30 at the bottom. Still, some aspiring CSU hopefuls consider the warning letter extortion.

"It's kind of, as if, they're putting a gun to my head and saying, 'Hey, say yes because if you don't say yes, there's a chance we may not have a spot for you,'" said CSU applicant LaBron Thompson.

Others hate to think their college careers are tied to California voters.

"That's nerve-wracking to say my whole future relies and is put on the shoulders of an election of this that may or may not go well," said CSU applicant Emmanuel Saucedo.

CSU trustees are also considering a 5 percent fee hike this week in case Prop 30 fails.

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CSU, taxes, politics, nannette miranda
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