The student-led campaign to pass an oil extraction tax in California via ballot initiative entered a new phase this week. The initiative, titled the California Modernization and Economic Development Act (CMED, for short), began gathering signatures in April and hit the signature gathering deadline set by the Secretary of State today. However, Californians for Responsible Economic Development, the student-led group that drafted the initiative, is announcing plans to strategically resubmit a revised measure: “This Summer has been busy for the CMED team,” said Aaron Thule, Grassroots Coordinator for the campaign, “after a lot of hard work, we have built a signature gathering coalition for Fall and Winter that will be ready to activate and qualify this initiative come November.”
The revised initiative will still utilize a tax on oil extracted from California to make investments in education and energy affordability, and authors have kept the same title. However, the authors made several key changes to the initiative. First, CMED will now feature a sliding scale tax of 2% to 8%, which proponents argue will protect small business owners and jobs. Proponents of the initiative predict that the oil tax would bring in 1 billion dollars a year in revenue for the state. Second, revenue in the revised initiative would be allocated as follows:
– 50% would be placed in a special 30-year endowment for education. After 3 years, the endowment would begin to payout in four equal parts toward K-12, Community Colleges, Cal State Universities and University of California. After 30 years of collecting interest, proponents predict it would bring in as much as 3.5 billion dollars a year (in today’s dollars) for California’s education system.
– 25% would be used to provide families and businesses with subsidies to help them switch to cleaner, less costly forms of energy
– 25% would be allocated toward rolling back the gas tax increase enacted last July, to make gas more affordable for working class Californians.
The growing coalition, which set signature gathering goals to qualify the measure by early Spring, includes the University of California Student Association (UCSA), groups at San Francisco State University, Sonoma State University, CSU Bakersfield and several community colleges. California College Democrats and Young Democrats, which have both endorsed an extraction tax for education and clean energy, are also lending support. “It’s hard to believe that California is the only state that practically gives away our energy – especially when, as a state, our schools and colleges continue to struggle and we have yet to provide adequate funding to meet our own renewable energy standards,” said Erik Taylor, president of the College Democrats, who added: “Cal College Dems aren’t the only ones focused on the problem. At the Democratic convention in April, the state party endorsed an extraction tax policy for California. At the Democratic eboard meeting in July, the Young Democrats took it a step further and endorsed an extraction tax for education, renewable energy and community development.”
The UCSA, which represents hundreds of thousands of students in the UC system, plans to organize across several campuses in order to ensure benefits for students. Kareem Aref, the President of the UCSA, commented, “Affordability and funding are critical issues at the UC and Prop 30 simply is not the solution in itself that we need. Our campaigns for this year are designed to ensure a stable and long term funding stream for the UC. We are excited to push CMED to the next level and see this initiative implemented.”
More information and updates from the campaign can be found at http://www.cmedact.org