BayBio today announced our support for California’s Proposition 30, “The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act.” It is never an easy decision in an economic downturn to endorse a tax increase measure; however, our Board of Directors feels strongly that we cannot afford any further risk to education funding in the state. California must remain a competitive place for our native biotechnology and high technology industries to thrive.
Over the past five years of protracted budget shortfalls, California’s public education system has endured several rounds of deep funding reductions and sharp tuition increases. The results have been catastrophic for students. According to a Public Policy Institute report from this year, “Defunding Higher Education,” enrollment rates at the UC and CSU have fallen by 20% over the past five years. “Among the state’s mostly highly prepared high school graduates, the enrollment rate has declined even more – from around 67% to 55%.” And while many students are opting for already overcrowded community colleges, a striking number are foregoing college altogether.
As one of the state’s largest industries, the life sciences employ more than 267,000 Californians at an average wage exceeding $76,000 per year. It is estimated that for every job in the life sciences, another five are created in support of that job – service sector jobs, logistics, real estate, and so on. But crucial to this economic engine is a well prepared workforce, and most of the jobs directly related to the industry involve formal education after high school. From the Ph.D’s that lead research teams, to two-year college graduates working on biotechnology manufacturing lines – the California Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California supply an employee pipeline essential to our continued growth in the Golden State.
Proposition 30 will increase income taxes on Californians in the highest brackets, and will increase the state’s sales tax by ¼ of 1 percent. The income tax increases will be effective for seven years, and only affect those earning more than $250,000 per year. The sales tax increase will be effective for four years. The total state sales tax rate will be lower than it was last year before a separate increase expired.
There are also strong safeguards in Proposition 30 to ensure that all of the money raised by the initiative is used solely for education funding. There are prohibitions against the funds being used for any costs incurred by the Legislature, Governor’s office, or any state agency; only colleges, county offices of education, school districts, or charter schools will have purview on how funds are spent, and strict auditing is in place to prevent any diversion.
The bottom line is that without Proposition 30, California’s schools face $6 billion in trigger cuts next year. Our industry cannot afford further divestment in education. We strongly urge a YES vote on Proposition 30.
For more information, please visit http://www.yesonprop30.com/