Prop 55 Supporters Take Case to Campuses Across State

Dressed as Uncle Sam, Andrew Tonkovich, a lecturer in writing, poses with schoolchildren and Mayor Bao Nguyen of Garden Grove at a Prop 55 event at UC-Irvine on Monday October 17, 2016. (Fred Glass/California Federation of Teachers)

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

IRVINE, Calif. – The campaign to pass Proposition 55 took a stand on campuses across California this week, with rallies on Monday at UC Irvine and Back Bay High School in Costa Mesa, and two more in Santa Cruz on Wednesday and Riverside on Thursday.

Proposition 55 would maintain taxes on the wealthy that were established by Prop 30 four years ago and are set to expire. The accompanying half-cent sales tax would not be renewed. Prop 55 is expected to generate $7 billion a year for K-12 and community colleges.

Britt Dowdy, president of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers, said the funds make a big difference for California schoolchildren.

“Prop 55 continues funding that is essential for K-12,” he said. “These funds have been used in our district to help support music and science education for kinder-through-third-grade students, as well as to help install air conditioning equipment to help those same students when it gets super hot outside.”

Opponents of Prop 55 argue that the tax on high-income families was only supposed to be temporary and should be allowed to expire, since the economy has improved over the past few years.

But Rob Schneiderman, president of the Coast Federation of Educators, representing the faculty of the Coast Community College District, said the money rebuilt California’s public-education system after the drastic cuts during the recession eight years ago.

“We’ve been able to maintain, not have any layoffs, and we’ve added classes,” he said. “We’re really helping the community, and it’s because of Prop 55 money, whereas other states that did tax cuts are laying people off right now.”

Andrew Tonkovich, president of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers at UC-Irvine, even dressed up like Uncle Sam to grab attention and get people talking about the issues.

“Of course we’re interested in the health of public education in California generally, and we’re interested in maintaining the highest quality of instruction and infrastructure and student services,” he said.

Prop 55 supporters also have been passing out voter-registration applications, because Monday is the deadline to send them in. More info on Prop 55 at <>.