Student Protesters "Occupy the Capitol"
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Thousands of students, teachers and workers are flooding the state capital today to protest cuts to education. The "Occupy the Capitol" rally began last week for some protesters, who marched 99 miles from Oakland to Sacramento.
Matthew Goldstein, president of the Peralta Federation of Teachers, says the protesters are calling on Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers to reject any budget deal that includes education cuts or tuition increases.
"The commitment to public education has not been honored; the promise has been broken, and this action is really to remind legislators that the state owes its students much, much better."
Many of the protesters support the Millionaires Tax Act, which would increase taxes on the wealthiest Californians to pay for education and social services. A recent Field Poll found most California voters would support the initiative.
The Field Poll found 63 percent support for the Millionaires Tax Act, followed by 58 percent support for the governor's tax proposal. Brown's plan would increase taxes on those who make more than $250,000 a year and temporarily increase the sales tax by half a cent.
Rick Jacobs, who founded the Courage Campaign, says the Millionaires Tax is the only one to provide guaranteed funding for higher education.
"Next year, if this passes, we could see as much as over $700 million for each of those three institutions: CSU, UC, and community colleges."
According to the nonprofit College Board, California's public universities lead the nation in escalating college costs with an average 21 percent increase in tuition.
"They can't afford it, teachers aren't there any more, they can't get the classes they want. This is a fundamental economic justice and middle-class gateway issue."
Courage Campaign and the California Federation of Teachers are the main supporters of the Millionaires Tax Act.
More information is at www.millionairestaxca.com.