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CSU letter warns applicants about tax initiative, Prop 30

September 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
High school and transferring community college students applying to a California State University campus this fall may get this warning instead of an early acceptance letter: There may not be room for them if Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure, Proposition 30, fails.

In a draft scheduled to be emailed at the beginning of next month, CSU points out the system is scheduled to get a $250 million mid-year cut if Prop 30 fails in November, so it will wait for the election outcome before accepting students.

"Our enrollment could very well have to be reduced because of potential budget cuts. We're just trying to inform students that we'll be holding on to applications," said Mike Uhlenkamp, a CSU spokesman.

But critics say there's an underlying political message in that letter: Vote yes on Prop 30 and your chances of getting a spot at CSU increases.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association fired off a letter saying that's illegal.

"California law is very clear that taxpayer funds cannot be used for political advocacy," said Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "When they specifically reference Prop 30 and the revenue it would provide, then they've crossed the line."

CSU denies any political motivation, saying they're just trying to level with students. In fact, the draft email currently has a link to the arguments against Prop 30 at the bottom. Still, some aspiring CSU hopefuls consider the warning letter extortion.

"It's kind of as if they're putting a gun to my head and saying, 'Hey, say yes.' Because if I don't say yes, 'There's a chance we may not have a spot for you,'" said CSU applicant LaBron Thompson.

Others hate to think their college careers are tied to California voters.

"That's nerve-wracking to say my whole future relies and is put on the shoulders of an election of this year that may or may not go well," said CSU applicant Emmanuel Saucedo.

CSU trustees are also considering a 5 percent fee hike this week in case Prop 30 fails.

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