Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Assemblyman Block to Grossmont-Cuyamaca: ‘Brian Jones Has Failed You’

"...[M]ore than 23,000 students were denied admission and put on a waiting list because of a $6.3 million reduction in state funds."

Assemblyman Block: ‘Brian Jones Has Failed You’
Democrat spoke to Grossmont College students and faculty on the GOP role in the state budget crisis.
By Eric Yates
La Mesa Patch
September 28, 2011

Democratic Assemblyman Marty Block rapped his Santee-based Republican colleague Tuesday while speaking at Grossmont College on the state budget crisis.

“Brian Jones—your representative, your assemblyman from this area—has failed you,” Block said. “And we need to elect people—Democrat or Republican—who are willing to tax millionaires, tax oil companies, tax tobacco companies, so that you guys have more money in the schools.”

Block represents the 78th District, which includes Spring Valley, Paradise Hills, Chula Vista, Lemon Grove, Bonita and parts of San Diego. Jones represents the 77th District, including La Mesa and Ramona.

With redistricting, The 78th Assembly District will be renamed the 79th, which includes La Mesa. If Block wins re-election in 2012, he will represent La Mesa.

Block noted the nuances of budget decision-making, but said the crisis boils down to a simple issue.

“By and large, the system needs more revenue,” Block told an audience of about 60 Grossmont students, faculty and staff members. “It’s tragic. We’ve cut billions, even over the last three years since I’ve been in office. We’ve gone from $120 billion to $85 billion.

“There are unemployed at record rates, so there’s less income tax, people losing houses, so there’s less property taxes. Because of this, people are not buying things so there’s less sales tax coming into the state. The only way to fight this is to raise revenues.”

Because of state cuts, Grossmont College of El Cajon had to cut more than 200 courses for this semester, and more than 1,000 courses have been eliminated over the past two years.

Block then lobbed a shot across the Assembly aisle, saying, “When it comes to budget, Republicans in the Assembly and in the Senate have refused to budge. They have refused to tax millionaires, have refused to tax billion-dollar oil companies in order to give you guys more classes by hiring more professors. I think it’s unconscionable.”

Block thinks that one way revenues can increase it to establish a tax on oil severance, which is oil taken out of the ground.

He said a tax would be successful because of three factors: 1) the tax would be taken from oil corporations, some of which profited more than $19 billion last year; 2) any tax that was “passed on to the pump” and absorbed by consumers would be spread out across the world, as California distributes its oil to all parts of the globe; and 3) Since “you can’t pick up an oil well and move it out of the state,” corporations would choose to pay the tax over shutting down their oil wells and losing out on massive profits.

Block answered questions from a panel of three—Sue Gonda, president of the Grossmont College Academic Senate; Russ Lindquist, editor of the Grossmont College Summit, the student newspaper; and Marc Arizmendez, news director for Griffin Radio, the campus radio station.

Arizmendez asked about the issue of violence on college campuses. Block referenced AB 620, a bill that would require four-year colleges and community colleges to establish and publish policies and penalties for harrassment, intimidation and bullying of individuals based on sexual orientation. These would become part of rules of student conduct.

An issue raised by Lundquist was that of so many students being denied admission and having no appeals process.

The Grossmont-Cuyamacca Community College District announced before the start of classes in August that more than 23,000 students were denied admission and put on a waiting list because of a $6.3 million reduction in state funds...

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