Though the state has been solidly blue for decades, California has not held a democratic supermajority in its legislature for more than 100 years.
On Nov. 6, California voters elected a sufficient number of democratic legislators to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to turn both the State Assembly and State Senate into democratic strongholds ““ a fact that students should take advantage of.
A blue Sacramento will likely serve as a strong ally for students, but only if we remind them that we are an important constituency by extending our lobbying efforts in the state capital.
Last March, students rallied at the capitol in Sacramento in support of state education, met with legislators and partook in the annual UC Student Lobby Conference.
With a more liberal legislature, efforts like these may carry more weight in Sacramento, especially as college-aged voters make up a significant part of the Democratic voting block.
In California, 18 to 29 year-old voters made up 27 percent of the electorate, according to CNN.
If the supermajority does not take steps to maintain funding to higher education, it stands to lose the support of a vital demographic.
While the Democrats’ strength in numbers should allow them to make fewer concessions to Republicans looking to reduce state spending at the cost of state institutions, we should not expect the establishment of a supermajority to be accompanied by a windfall of financial support for state-supported higher education. There is no doubt there will be continued budgetary belt-tightening.
Though there might be a more liberal tilt to the legislature, it is unlikely the supermajority will allot more funds to the UC beyond what the tax revenues from Proposition 30 would provide, said Daniel Mitchell, professor emeritus at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
While all revenue from Proposition 30 will go toward K-12 education and community colleges, it will free up funds for other public institutions. Students should push for this money to benefit the UC.
Currently, the measure would provide little more than temporary relief from tuition cuts to the University of California.
A deal between the state and the UC said that, in the event that Proposition 30 passed, the UC would receive $125 million in exchange for freezing tuition. Proposition 30 also shielded the University from a multimillion-dollar cut.
A majority of the state’s citizens have demonstrated their support for continued funding of the golden state’s higher education institutions. Through his initiative, Gov. Jerry Brown also aligned himself with voters as a strong supporter of the UC and CSU systems.
Now that both the public and the governor are on board, our state legislature must also do their part.
The supermajority presents an opportunity for the state legislature to potentially take action toward a more stabilizing investment in California’s higher education system.
As the Democratic platform is less averse to public spending than that of the Republicans, a stronger Democratic presence in the state legislature could lend increased importance to the concerns of students surrounding budget cuts and tuition hikes during the next election cycle.
This Democratic supermajority will not necessarily be the savior of California’s higher education system, but with more legislators working towards the same goal ““ maintaining funding for some of our state’s most important programs, as opposed to trimming spending wherever possible ““ the UC could benefit from a more left-leaning legislature if students make their voices heard.