Tag Archives: debt

CA Student Bill of Rights

( – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

“Our students should be able to pursue their dream of a college degree without having to jeopardize their financial future by going deep into debt,” Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont)said.  “This is a crisis that is getting worse.  A college education is supposed to improve your financial security not destroy it.  That is why I have introduced a Student Bill of Rights.”

Wieckowski’s Student Bill of Rights package, being introduced to the State Assembly this spring, takes a two-pronged approach to the issue by educating students and helping them become financially-literate consumers on the front end, and easing the burden for those graduates who are struggling and not able to pay their debt after leaving college.

His bills, AB 233, AB 391, AB 534 and Assembly Joint Resolution 11 are currently moving through the Legislature and have broad support from student, consumer, labor, and legal advocates.

We’re inviting all California post-secondary (college, community college, trade programs, university) students and their advocates to meet on the south steps of the State Capitol on Monday, April 8 at 11:30 a.m. to make the statement that California’s students have a right to higher education with a debt free future! Join us as we call for higher education debt reform that will protect Californians from crippling student loan debt.

As America’s college students face over $1 trillion in higher education debt, NOW is the time to make sure Californians have a safe future with financial opportunities. Private student loans carry risks that all Californians should be aware of and have increased protection from, through financial literacy programs and improved counseling tied to private student loans.

Monday, April 8 at 11:30 a.m. join Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), State Controller John Chiang, California State Student Association, and others as we raise awareness about the Student Bill of Rights currently in consideration in the State Assembly. Bring your stories and your support; bring your voice and be heard! Help the state take action so that California’s students have the right to higher education with a debt-free future! We welcome all student groups, all post-secondary educators, parents, and all education advocates. We have the opportunity right now to make a difference for ourselves and the generations of students to come!

For more information, contact Assemblymember Wieckowski’s office at (916) 319-2025 or [email protected]

Why should you take a moment to support CMED?

by Kevin Singer, Communications Coordinator, Californians for Responsible Economic Development

In 2011 alone, California produced a grand total of approximately 200 million barrels of oil and 230 billion cubic feet of natural gas, making our state the fourth largest producer of oil and the tenth largest producer of natural gas in the country. Yet, despite this, California does not get a dime for the resources that are extracted from our state and sold on the global market. This is because, unlike every other major oil and natural gas producing state in the nation, California has not enacted an extraction fee on the energy that is taken right from under our feet.

Let’s think about this for a moment. California, the ninth largest economy in the world, is ranked 43rd in the country in terms of K-12 spending per pupil. The University of California, the flagship public university system of the nation, has seen a 14% decrease in funding since 2010. And at a time when a quality college education has never been more important, tuition is skyrocketing, making a diploma unaffordable for an increasing number of young Californians. Meanwhile, at 9.8% unemployment, even those who have graduated from college find themselves without work or working at jobs they are tremendously over-qualified for. The appalling disrepair of our municipal infrastructure only discourages employers from bringing more jobs to our state. But our state government has its hands tied behind its back. The $250 billion dollar state debt all but assures that there will be no additional funding for education and infrastructure in the near future.

And we are giving away our oil and natural gas. We have the wealth to fund the investments that California needs and deserves and we are giving it away. This is to say nothing of that fact that by not charging an extraction fee on oil and natural gas, our state, which prides itself as a leader of reducing CO2 emissions, is not putting a price on the CO2 that eventually makes its way into the atmosphere. To say this is ridiculous would be an understatement. It is an outrage.

The California Modernization and Economic Development Act (or CMED) would put an end to it. By implementing a modest 9.5% extraction fee on oil and natural gas (Alaska, hardly an enemy of big oil, has implemented a fee of 24% on oil and natural gas that’s extracted from the state), CMED would raise between 2 and 2.5 billion dollars in revenue for California. A little more than half, 1.2 billion dollars, would be allocated in four equal parts for K-12, California Community Colleges, Cal State Universities, and the University of California for the purposes of increasing quality and restoring tuition to 2010 levels. 400 million dollars will be used to support small businesses by aiding their transition to cheaper, carbon-free and carbon-reduced forms of energy, which would in turn empower them to expand, hire additional workers, and reinvest. An additional 300 million dollars would be apportioned to the general funds of California County Governments for the purpose of upgrading and better maintaining municipal infrastructure, funding the conservation of regional park land and providing a multitude of other public services.

These are more than investments, they constitute a complete vision for responsible economic development in California. Making that vision a reality is as easy as ending the giveaway of our oil and natural gas, but it’ll take a popular movement if we truly want to realign the policies in Sacramento with the wishes and desires of Californians. Simply by taking a few moments, right now, and visiting www.cmedact.org, liking our Facebook, following us on Twitter, telling your friends or donating anything you can, even $5, you can provide the crucial grassroots support we need. It’s that easy. You could be the difference between failing to qualify and qualifying CMED on the 2014 ballot, so that Californians can have a chance to pass it democratically.

We can do this California, but not without your support. If you think it’s ridiculous that we are giving away our oil and natural gas at a time when California is more cash-strapped than ever, join our cause. It won’t be easy, but together we will qualify and pass the California Modernization and Economic Development Act and put our state back on the right track.

Consumer Advocates, Patients Deliver Blank Check to Health Insurers Representing Cost of Rate Hikes

Consumer advocates and patients facing May 1 rate increases delivered a blank check to health insurance companies representing the hundreds of millions more that one million Californians will pay for their insurance, today in Santa Monica and outside Anthem’s San Francisco offices. They called on voters to sign the official ballot initiative petition to require health insurance companies to get permission before raising rates.

One million Californians – the “May Million” – will pay premium increases as high as 20% for their health insurance with Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net and UnitedHealthcare on May 1st.

This week, Anthem Blue Cross parent company CEO Angela Braly told investors that California doesn’t need the health insurance rate regulation initiative because federal law adequately protects patients. Braly made $13.2 million in compensation in 2011. Anthem Blue Cross will raise rates by more than $100 million for over 700,000 Californians even as it delivers rebates for overcharging consumers last year and raked in $856 million in profits in the first quarter of 2012.

Harvey Rosenfield, author of insurance reform Proposition 103 which has saved drivers $62 billion since 1988, said: “CEO Angela Braly told investors that California already has plenty of oversight of health insurance prices and doesn’t need our ballot measure. She should tell that to the 700,000 customers of Anthem Blue Cross in California who will pay over $100 million more when their health insurance premiums go up on May 1st. A CEO who made $13 million last year is completely out of touch with patients who can’t afford double-digit rate increases because premiums are rising at five times the rate of inflation.”

Jessica Blacher from Santa Monica is one of the “May Million” who was faced with a rate increase on May 1st. The proposed 23% hike in Jessica’s premiums was the fourth in just two years, and she was forced to trade her coverage for a catastrophic plan with lower benefits and higher out of pocket costs, including $9500 she must pay out of pocket every year on top of her premium.

Alison Heath, a self-employed mother from San Francisco, is also one of the “May Million,” and will pay a 19.7% rate increase on May 1st. Alison’s increase will be the third in less than two years, hiking the monthly premium on the Anthem policy that covers her and her husband to $1767 a month.

In her comments to investors Braly said California’s rate review process was “effective,” yet just last month a rate increase was implemented even though state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones found it was unreasonable, because no one in California has to power to prevent unreasonable rate increases.

Wellpoint’s 1st quarter financial report notes that medical costs increased just 4.8%, but California patients will see rate increases of up to 19.9%, more than four times that amount.

Consumer Watchdog Campaign, and supporters including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, AARP, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Courage Campaign and Consumer Federation of California, have emailed millions of voters across the state, asking them to download, print, sign and return the petition at www.JustifyRates.org. The campaign has gathered more than 500,000 of the 795,000 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, with just three weeks of signature-gathering remaining.

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog and proponent of the ballot initiative, with Jessica Blacher of Santa Monica.

The ballot initiative, the “Insurance Rate Public Justification and Accountability Act:”

  • Requires health insurance companies to publicly disclose and justify, under penalty of perjury, proposed rate changes before they take effect.
  • Makes every document filed by an insurance company to justify a rate increase a public record, and requires public hearings on some proposed rate increases.
  • Gives Californians the right to challenge excessive and unfair premium rate increases.
  • Prohibits health, auto and home insurers from considering Californians’ credit history or prior insurance coverage when setting premiums or deciding whether to offer coverage.
  • Gives the insurance commissioner authority to reject unjustified health insurance rate increases.

$11.6 Million In Campaign Cash to Politicians Fueled Health Insurer Campaigns to Kill Rate Reform

Ballot Measure to Regulate Health Insurance Prices Will Let Voters Decide Whether To Regulate Health Insurance Prices

A new analysis at followthemoney.org finds that health insurance companies gave $11.6 million in campaign cash to California politicians, including $7.4 million to candidates for the California legislature, between 2000 and 2010. The largest health insurance donor in California over the last decade was Wellpoint, the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross, which will increase health insurance premiums as much as 20% for nearly 600,000 California policyholders on May 1.

Click here to find the report, “Health Insurance Interests Invest Heavily in California Campaigns.”

Health insurance companies have wielded their influence in Sacramento to kill legislation introduced every year for the last decade that would have required health insurers to get approval before increasing patients’ insurance premiums. The largest recipients of health insurer money were lawmakers that voted against or blocked reform. They include: Lou Correa ($119,967), Gloria Negrete-McLeod ($135,610), Ron Calderon ($65,700) and Juan Vargas ($42,122).

A ballot measure proposed for the November ballot will go around the insurer roadblock in the legislature to let California voters decide whether to regulate health insurance rates, said Consumer Watchdog Campaign today. Dario Frommer, who received $150,388 from health insurers while in office, now works for the industry and wrote the industry’s analysis of the ballot measure for the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“Health insurance companies paid California politicians an $11.6 million bounty to kill rate reform over the last decade. But we’re lucky in California, because when compromised politicians stand in the way of reform the voters can take charge. This ballot measure will let voters decide if it’s time to force health insurers to rein in skyrocketing rate hikes,” said Carmen Balber with Consumer Watchdog Campaign.  The analysis issued at followthemoney.org also found:

  • The top four health insurance industry contributors, Wellpoint, Kaiser, Blue Shield and Health Net, gave $5.5 million to candidates. (These companies are also the four largest health insurers in California.)
  • More than half, $5.3 million, of the money given by health insurers to candidates went to members of the Health or Insurance committees responsible for bills that regulate the industry.
  • Health insurance companies also contributed $2.9 million to support and oppose ballot measures.

The ballot measure to regulate health insurance rats can be downloaded to print and sign at JustifyRates.org. It would require health insurers to publicly justify rate changes, under penalty of perjury, and give the state insurance commissioner the ability to modify or deny excessive rate increases. Health insurance premiums in California have gone up at 5 times the rate of inflation over the last decade.  

California Insurance Commissioner Can’t Stop Aetna’s “Unreasonable” Rate Hikes

Small Businesses Stuck With Unjustifiable 8% Rate Hike, 30% Increase Over Last 24 Months Says Department of Insurance

The California Department of Insurance has announced that Aetna is imposing an 8% annual health insurance rate hike on its small business customers despite state actuaries’ findings that the increase is “unreasonable” and not supported by data.  Consumer Watchdog Campaign says this demonstrates the urgency of voters passing its proposed ballot measure to make health insurance companies justify their rate hikes and get permission before raising rates.  The initiative, which is currently being circulated for signatures to place it on the November 2012 ballot at grocery stores and online at JustifyRates.org, would allow the Insurance Commissioner to reject a rate hike such as Aetna’s if state experts find it unreasonable.

“Until the Commissioner is allowed to say no to unjustified and excessive rate hikes, small businesses and families in California will continue to pay more than they should for health insurance,” said Jamie Court, proponent of the proposed allot measure and a director of Consumer Watchdog Campaign.  “Aetna’s rate hike is the poster child for why health insurance should be required to get approval before rate hikes take effect.”

According to the Department of Insurance, the Aetna subsidiary that sells health insurance in California earned huge profits in 2011 and paid a $1.7 billion dividend to its parent company last year.  Additionally, while the insurance company claims that it needs the rate increase to cover increasing medical costs, Aetna’s own data and documents don’t support that claim, which also conflicts with national data about medical cost inflation.

The ballot initiative being circulated by Consumer Watchdog Campaign would require insurance company CEOs to justify under penalty of perjury that rate hikes are necessary and allow the Insurance Commissioner to reject any hike determined to be excessive.  Similar rules have applied to auto and home insurance in California and have saved motorists in California over $62 billion since 1988 when that law took effect.  The initiative also prohibits the use of unfair rating factors in health, home and auto insurance.

“Insurance companies like to say that there is already regulation of health insurance in California, because insurers are required to make their rate increase plans public.  But if a company can ignore official findings that a rate hike is unreasonable and jack up rates whenever they want, then the law needs to change,” said Court.

The petition to place the initiative on the ballot can be signed outside supermarkets or by going to www.JustifyRates.org and downloading the one-page petition.

Anthem Plans Rate Hikes Up To 20% for Nearly 600,000 Californians

( – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

As 2nd Anniversary of Federal Health Reform Law Approaches, CA Ballot Measure Seeks to Control Skyrocketing Health Insurance Rates.

Anthem Blue Cross will raise health insurance rates for nearly 600,000 Californians by as much as 20% on May 1. A ballot initiative to make health insurance more affordable by regulating premium increases is necessary to protect Californians from excessive rate hikes, said Consumer Watchdog Campaign today.

Friday is the 2nd anniversary of the federal health reform law, which will require every American to have health insurance by 2014 but does not control what private health insurance companies can charge. The ballot initiative proposed by Consumer Watchdog Campaign would require health insurance companies to publicly justify rates, under penalty of perjury, and get rate increases approved before they take effect.

“Every time insurance companies force another double-digit rate increase on consumers they make the case for our ballot initiative to rein in excessive rate hikes. If Anthem had to include a copy of our petition in the rate increase notice it mailed to more than half a million consumers, we’d already have the 505,000 signatures necessary to qualify the measure for the November ballot,” said Carmen Balber with Consumer Watchdog Campaign.

The ballot measure would regulate health insurance policies that cover 5.3 million Californians. 35 states have the power to reject excessive rate increases, but California does not.

“The Affordable Care Act ends some of health insurers’ worst abuses – like cancelling coverage when patients get sick, or charging women more just for being women. But the law falls short on cost control. Health reform cannot succeed if we don’t put the brakes on skyrocketing insurance premiums. Strong rate regulation will lower premiums, give insurers incentives to cut spending and save health reform,” said Balber.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments in a case that will determine whether the law’s mandate that individuals purchase insurance violates the Constitution. Regardless of what the court decides, the experience with health reform in Massachusetts shows that consumers will need the protection of rate regulation to hold down insurance prices, said the group.

Consumer Watchdog released a report last year demonstrating how rate regulation has begun to curb insurance premiums in Massachusetts, where the mandate that people buy health insurance — the model for the 2010 federal reform law — failed to control costs. Other states that instituted or strengthened state laws requiring rate review and approval of health insurance rates, including New York, Oregon and Maine, have also seen cost-control results. States without regulation of health insurance rates have seen massive and unjustified rate increases take effect with no power to stop them.

A new report from the California HealthCare Foundation finds that 38% of Californians say the cost of their health insurance went up in 2011, and 37% delayed getting health care they needed because of costs.

“The reality is that consumers will not purchase insurance they cannot afford, and insurance prices become more out of reach for families every year,” said Balber. “Experience in states from California to New York has shown that rate regulation is the only way to force insurance companies to open their books, justify spending, and block excessive profits.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that 1 in 5 Americans are burdened by medical debt and half of them are unable to pay the debt at all. Health insurance premiums in California increased at a pace five times the rate of inflation in the last decade, according to the California HealthCare Foundation.

Download the Consumer Watchdog Report, “Health Reform and Insurance Regulation: Can’t Have One Without The Other”.

Read more about the initiative at www.JustifyRates.org.

Health Insurance Companies Attack Consumer Watchdog As Special Interest!

What Chutzpa! The four health insurance companies that control 71% of the California market today attacked Consumer Watchdog as “a special interest group.” Their press release below only acknowledges in the fine print that the attack is “Paid for by Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Health Net, Inc., and Blue Shield of California.”

The insurance companies are scared because we are on the road to qualify our ballot measure that forces them to publicly justify their rate hikes and lets the insurance commissioner reject unreasonable rates. Still, it’s Orwellian to see the big insurance companies hiding behind the lab coats of doctors and trying to smear a consumer group with a two-decade history of saving consumers tens of billions of dollars on their insurance bills.  

You can see the type of opposition we’re up against, and it’s only March. Think of what they’ll say and do between now and November.

Please help us remind Californians who is on their side and who is ripping them off every day. Donate now to the “Justify Rates” ballot measure campaign.

A report out today shows the health care industry generated $35.7 million in lobbyist spending in 2011, more than any other industry in California, and Kaiser was the largest spender at $3.5 million. Our ballot initiative would prohibit insurance companies like Kaiser from passing on lobbying expenditures to policyholders as premium increases, the same way current law prohibits auto and homeowners insurers from passing on those costs.

That’s why health insurance companies are scared and are willing to do anything to avoid regulation.

Will you make a contribution to the ballot measure campaign to fight back today?

CDC Study Finds 1 in 5 Families Struggling With Medical Debt, Shows Urgency of Need to Curb Insuran

Initiative To Allow Regulators to Reject Excessive Rate Increases Would Give California Families Protection

The first large-scale survey of Americans about their problems with medical debt show 1 in 5 are burdened by medical debt and half of them are unable to pay the debt at all. Having health insurance is a key to being able to pay for medical care, said the Consumer Watchdog Campaign, but spiraling insurance rates have left millions of Americans uninsured or badly underinsured. A ballot initiative proposed in California would make health insurance more affordable by regulating premium increases, and give the state the ability to curb excessive rates before they go into effect.

The report released today by the federal Centers for Disease Control found that medical debt hit hardest at younger families and the working class, people who are least likely to be able to afford insurance.

When one in five Americans are in medical debt it’s clear that we’re not doing enough to make health insurance affordable. Soon, federal law will require every American to have insurance, but nothing controls what health insurers can charge. States need the power to say no to excessive health insurance premium hikes,” said Carmen Balber with the Consumer Watchdog Campaign. “The California ballot initiative will allow the state to rein in out-of-control spending on insurance bureaucracy, executive salaries and profits that is driving the up cost of health care and driving consumers out of coverage and into medical debt.”

Lead report author Robin Cohen, of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, said insurance, public or private, frequently determines whether families can pay their health care expenses.

“But even among people with private insurance, about 16 percent had trouble paying medical bills and 6 percent couldn’t pay at all,” Cohen told Health Day.

A ballot initiative sponsored by Consumer Watchdog Campaign and aiming for the November California ballot would require insurance companies to justify rate increases, under penalty of perjury, before they take effect. Regulators would have the power to reject or modify unreasonable premium rates, and limit the amount of wasteful overhead, profit and executive compensation that insurance companies may pass on to consumers. The measure would add health insurance policies sold to 5.3 million Californians to the state’s rate regulation law. It also prohibits health, auto and home insurers from using Californians’ credit history or prior insurance coverage to increase premiums or deny coverage.

The measure is based on the insurance reform law, Proposition 103, that regulated auto and homeowners insurance in California. That law has saved drivers $62 billion in premiums since 1988, according to a 2008 Consumer Federation of America report.

The campaign is using a mixed paid and volunteer effort to gather the 505,000 signatures necessary to qualify for the November ballot. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was the first person to sign the petition, authored an email to millions of California voters asking them to download, print, sign and return the official ballot petition online at www.JustifyRates.org.

The federal health reform law requires review of some health insurance rate increases, but does not give any state regulator the authority to modify or deny rate increases even when they are found to be excessive or unreasonable.

What Happens in a Bad Economy?

Politicians like to talk in abstractions.

Come to think of it, they like to argue and obfuscate in abstractions, as well. They campaign in abstractions and make abstract pledges until those abstractions turn into something tangible, like a subprime lending crisis or a downgrade from a particular private rating agency.

We spend so much time wading through abstractions that we cannot get to the meat of the issues that face us today. Enough of that.

What really happens in a bad economy? And what is the public’s role during these tough times?

Americans feeling the pinch have less disposable income–their paychecks go in increasing amounts to paying the bills and saving to make ends meet.

This means there is less overall consumer spending. Sure, certain industries do better–oil & gas, for instance–because they are pseudo-required for transportation to and from work or school.

Less consumer spending means lower demand for durable goods (automobiles, clothes, household appliances, etc.). This lower demand results in lower prices for these goods (or even a forced lower supply).

Lower prices & lower supply means businesses bring in less money and potentially less profit. This means big-time layoffs and a plethora of pink sheets.

Fewer workers and fewer wage jobs further decreases consumer spending, even though prices have lowered. This drives that vicious circle even farther, resulting in even greater job loss.

All of this illustrates what we can call the “paradox of thrift:”

“By attempting to increase its rate of saving, society may create conditions under which the amount it can actually save is reduced. This phenomenon is called the paradox of thrift….[T]hrift, which has always been held in high esteem in our economy, now becomes something of a social vice.”

Pundits are fond of saying that “if a family operated its finances like the federal government, they would go bankrupt!” This is true, from the whole to the individual unit in society. But the revered Adam Smith wrote, “What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great Kingdom.” The implication that spending in the federal government is wrong or evil is false; it’s a “fallacy of composition.”

What does that mean? “If a population saves more money…then total revenues for companies will decline. This decrease in economic growth means fewer salary increases and perhaps downsizing. Eventually the population’s total savings will have remained the same or even declined because of lower incomes and a weaker economy.”

So what is the role of the public–through their government–in these tough economic times?

Government spending bridges the gap–while the overall propensity of families across the nation may be to save, public investment slows the contraction of the economy due to that subsequent lower demand we talked about earlier. Government spending helps individual families do what is economically prudent according to their own circumstances, without unnecessarily dragging down the national economy.

In other words, when you and your family are focused on spending, you can’t help grow the economy through your usual spending and investment. That’s where public investment is pivotal–and has historically brought us through rough patches.

Of course, this argument presupposes that in good economic times, government–as a matter of course–spends less; this did not happen from 2001-2008. Unnecessary government spending on programs with no long-term benefit to the American public–the Bush-era tax cuts and spending on two major wars–drive up both deficits and explode the national debt. That is what has driven the current debt/deficit reality.

(And for those worried about raising taxes on families in tough times–I certainly am–let’s simply let the Bush tax cuts expire already. They cost the country a whopping $1.8 trillion, contributed to the housing bubble and did not achieve growth. They did the exact opposite of what a responsible government does when the economy is strong; instead of running a surplus and paying down the debt, they ran up needless deficits and exploded the national debt.)

(Cross-posted from The Journeying Progressive.)

A UC Student’s Perspective on the Fee Increase Fight.


   On November 19th, 52 UC Davis students were arrested after peacefully protesting the new 32% fee increases established by the UC Regents. As a second year undergraduate, I was hopeful that students were beginning to see the bigger picture: California is broken.

   Students, so far, have been forcing most of the blame on the UC Regents. While it is true that the 20 Regents who voted for the increase certainly deserve a heaving portion of the blame for borrowing tens of millions (from a non-CA bank, NY Merrill Trust) while forcing students into a cycle of debt in order to protect UC’s eerily superb bond rating, the only way for students to move towards enacting change is to recognize that UC’s woes are symptomatic of the larger disease that has infected the entire state.

   The UC student, to widen the umbrella for a movement that might have the capability of rallying support for reform, should understand that he or she risks turning people off by angling attacks towards the Regents and the Regents only. It is important to recognize that while it is a travesty that UC is becoming an unaffordable option for many California families, it is nearsighted to think that UC fees are anything more than a slice of the pie that is California’s broken political system. The state workers that have been furloughed, the elderly Californians that are losing their access to Medicare, the thousands of previously middle-class Californians that have had their homes foreclosed, and the over 12% of California that is unemployed might tell students that UC is not the only government program that is underfunded, mismanaged, and increasingly unavailable to the people who need it.


 To the single mother making $30,000 a year or the undocumented immigrant working in poor labor conditions for a less-than-legal salary, the plight of the students might seem distant and unimportant. The reality of the situation is that students are making valid points, but they are doing so in a way that turns off the millions of Californians that should be turned on by the students’ overarching message of reforming California.

   When the student recognizes that the immediate and long term problems caused by UC’s fee increases are tied together with the struggles of working families, immigrants, the elderly, homeowners, borrowers, the unemployed, water drinkers, and dozens of other California communities and interest groups, then, perhaps, we will see forward progress.

   The first point that needs to be made by students (that might catch on) is that the programs that made our state great in the 50s and 60s cannot continue to exist without proper funding.

   The message should be loud and clear: raising revenue does not mean higher taxes for everybody, it means looking at who and what gets taxed in this state, and what kind of people are hurt when programs lose funding. Here are three problems that have been generally accepted among the progressive community to be at the heart of the problem:

   Lack of an oil-severance tax in California. Who wins? Big Oil. Who loses? The People. AB 656 (Torrico) would use a 9.9% tax on Gross Product to generate up to $1 billion annually for programs like UC, CSU and CCC.

   2/3rds majority required to pass anything that raises revenue. Who wins? The CaGOP and Big Business. Who loses? Again, The People. Republicans who are indebted to special interest groups that represent Big Business are able to crush the programs that help make the California Dream a reality for many working Californians. AB 656 is expected to be an easy kill for the Republican minority, even though California is the only state in the union that does not have an oil severance tax (including Sarah’s AK and GWB’s TX).

   Proposition 13. Who wins? Big Business. Who Loses? The People. The remains of the Jarvis Taxpayer Revolution act as the most regressive and harmful tax policy in the state. With the veil of providing economic safety for elderly residents without a fixed income, the anti-tax era cursed California’s future with budget shortfalls and program cuts. It is apparent, now, that Californians can’t have our cake and eat it, too.

   So, students should be asking the question: Why is it that Chevron, Monsanto, and Walmart are allowed to raise revenue while the State of California isn’t? Why is it that CEOs are getting pay raises while the People are getting both pay cuts and program cuts?

   The students are right: the State of California has left them for dead, but they are not alone. Almost every Californian uses some sort of state-sponsored program, whether that be a UC, a public elementary school, a library, or the DMV. If you’re one of those people, and if you haven’t gotten a pay raise, then you should be ticked off, too.