Illustration by Christine Hipp

Check your party affiliation at the door. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 asks taxpayers to choose between an automatic cut of $250 million to the University of California and California State Universities or higher taxes.

Brown’s proposition will raise the state sales tax by one-fourth of a cent for a maximum of four years, and will raise taxes on constituents who earn $250,000 or more a year, by 1–3 percent for a maximum of seven years.

In return, the state will not slash $250 million from the UC and CSU, will give the UC a $125 million tuition increase buyout and will increase the base budget of the UC and CSU by 6 percent every year, starting in 2013 and ending in 2017.

The initiative itself will not give any of its revenue directly to the UC or CSU. K-12 will receive 89 percent of all revenue generated from the new taxes, and the remaining 11 percent will go to community colleges. Prop. 30 will pour new revenue into the blistering wound that is education’s budget while drawing on previously allotted money from the same department to  balance the overall budget. Despite the rearrangement of the budget, K-12 and higher education will end up with more money than they have had in the past.

If Prop. 30 fails, tuition could go up as much as 20 percent midway through the school year. That would increase tuition by about $2,500, for a total of about $14,600 (not including fees) per year. However, should Prop. 30 pass, the UC Regents passed a resolution at the July 18 meeting that promised a tuition freeze for the 2012–13 school year.

Proposition 30 isn’t the only ballot measure with taxes and education in mind.

Molly Munger’s Proposition 38 provides new revenue only for K-12 education. In addition, Prop. 38 will tax nearly everyone, on a scale from a .4 percent rise on those who make $7,317 a year to a 2.2 percent rise on those making over $2.5 million a year. It promises to create a trust fund separate from legislative control that will ensure that all revenue generated from the proposition goes directly to K-12 education and early childhood care and education.

Prop. 38 will only further convolute our bloated bureaucracy and budget. An analysis by the California Budget Project found additional issues with the proposition, concluding that the initiative “may not increase total school spending by as much as some estimate because the Legislature could reduce other state education spending.”

We must vote, regardless of our choices and stances in this election. It’s our duty as citizens and constituents of the United States. If we want to change our endless budget troubles, we need to participate in the process and let our voices be heard. This starts with students registering by Oct. 22, and voting on Nov. 6.

While not a permanent solution, Proposition 30 will protect education for the next few years. As the San Francisco Chronicle put it, “Yes on Prop. 30,” and “No on Prop. 38.”

The future of higher education is uncertain. In the past, the state has not been kind to the budget of higher education. State funding to the UC alone has decreased by $1.1 billion since 2007.

The current tuition of $13,416 (which includes student fees) can be paid with this $1.1 billion for the entire undergraduate population of 16,000 at UCSC for the next five years.

Let’s make these billions a bit more personal. Let’s make a vote for education.