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LaborFest 2011 - Tax Big Oil To Fund California Education
Hear Peter Matthews, an instructor at Cypress College and State Coordinator of Rescue Education California, speak on a state ballot initiative for an oil extraction tax, to be used directly to fund the state education system. Matthews and others in his campus community crafted the initiative and are currently leading a signature drive. California is the only state in the nation that does not charge such a tax. Despite this, Governor Brown, many legislators, and even some of the education unions are against the initiative. Labor activist Steve Zeltzer also adds some information. (14 minutes).
An estimate 200,000 students will have to drop out of the California higher education system this year due to inability to pay the escalated fees. The oil extraction tax can raise an estimated $3 billion or more annually. Matthews decries the lack of legislative and labor support for this measure. He reports that some of the more progressive educational unions are behind the measure but some are not, and it has been heavily criticized in some labor circles. Zeltzer explains a reason for this puzzling picture. Governor Brown is reportedly against taking on the oil companies because he fears there might be a backlash against some of his other revenue raising measures. Some unions are preferring to stay with Brown’s budget plan, despite the fact that it obviously neither working nor resolving anything and is in itself an attack on labor.
Much of the talk in this forum was about the need for labor to part with cozy relationships with employers and Democratic Party legislators and work more for what is right for the people of California. Many Democrats don’t want to promote revenue raising measures until after November 2012. More on this ballot proposition, which needs the required number of signatures by September, can be found at rescueeducationcalifornia.org.
Professor George Wright of Skyline College, a professor for decades in the California system, also gave a long and extremely articulate talk in this forum. He spoke on the formation of neoliberalism and its effects in the systematic deterioration and now privatization of the California higher education system over the past four decades.