East Bay "Democracy for America" Meetup Message Board › Marijuana and Education - Next DFA Meetup
Marijuana and Education on the front line!!
East Bay DFA Meetup – New Date & Location (this month only)
Tuesday Nov. 10 St. Johns Presbyterian Church
2727 College Ave. Berkeley
RSVP here: http://dfa.meetup.com...
Here’s what we have on tap:
Abraham Kniesler from Oaksterdam University gives us the status on what the next steps will be to make The Control, Regulate and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 a reality and what we can do to help out.
Edie Irons is the communications director for the Institute for College Access and Success. She’ll be talking about funding for higher education here in California and what impact California’s decisions are having on students.
We’ll have an action item that will give you a chance to walk out after the meeting feeling like you’ve done more than just get some information on education funding, you’ll know that you’ve done something to help frame that debate.
Marijuana in Calfornia
Medical marijuana has flourished for years in the California, and it looks like cash-strapped cities are finally saying they want in on the action. Nearly 80 percent of voters approved a measure to tax medical marijuana dispensaries in Oakland.
The city is facing massive deficits as California continues to suffer from a historic budget crisis, and voters are eager to forestall either tax increases or service cuts. The vote will impose a 1.8 percent tax on the gross receipts to the four licensed medical cannabis dispensaries located in Oakland.
Showing just how much dispensaries have been making from the semi-legal weed sales, one owner estimates he'll pay $350,000 in taxes next year. That means, doing some back of envelope math, that one location was pulling over $21 million in gross income per year.
Not to be outdone, state lawmakers are holding a hearing on Wednesday on the effects of a bill that would legalize, tax and regulate the drug — in what would be the first such law in the United States.
California voters are also taking up legalization. Three separate initiatives are being circulated for signatures to appear on the ballot next year. Proponents of the leading ballot initiative (The Control, Regulate and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010) have collected nearly 300,000 signatures since late September, supporters say, easily on pace to qualify for the November 2010 general election. Richard Lee, a longtime marijuana activist who is behind the measure, says “Voters are ripping the petitions out of our hands.”
Landmark Higher Education Bill passes the House.
With student debt at record levels and loan default rates on the rise, the House passed legislation in September that will provide real annual increases in student grant aid, reducing the need to borrow.
The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3221) is a major step toward restoring the Pell Grant’s lost purchasing power. If the maximum Pell Grant had been rising at the proposed rate since the 1974-75 school year, Pell funding would be 43% higher than it is today and cover 47% of the cost of a public four-year education. In 1975-76, the maximum Pell Grant covered 84% of that cost; today it covers 35%.
This crucial increase in grant funding is paid for by streamlining the federal loan programs, at no cost to taxpayers. Making all federal loans through the Direct Loan program will also make it easy for borrowers to distinguish federal student loans from risky private loans. In 2007-08, nearly two-thirds (64%) of undergraduates with private loans borrowed less than they could have in federal loans, and one in four had no federal loans at all.
This bill is a win for students and families, and we look forward to it moving through Congress and to the President’s desk before the end of the year. We urge the Senate to move swiftly and to prioritize funding for Pell Grants. We also encourage the Senate to improve the contracting provisions for student loan servicing to minimize costs for taxpayers and maximize benefits for students and families.
At the state level, the Cal Grant program has been the cornerstone of California’s commitment to college access and affordability for more than 50 years. Since 2001, all qualified graduating high school students have been guaranteed a Cal Grant. If we don’t put more money into higher education here in California, The Institute for College Access & Success estimates that more than 200,000 students would lose all or part of the Cal Grant they were counting on. These students have very low to moderate incomes, strong grades, and vary greatly in age and type of college, although nearly half are planning to attend community colleges.
The loss of Cal Grants will push lower income students off the college track, delay their progress, or leave them deeper in debt as they struggle to make ends meet. Making it harder for Californians to get the training and education they need will add to unemployment, limit economic growth and income tax revenue, and discourage upward mobility and entrepreneurship.
We hear about ‘tough choices:’ between child care, homeless shelters, pre-school, pensions, property tax rebates, and higher education. The actual choice is not between higher education and property tax rebates or between higher education and pensions, but, rather, the choice should be raising taxes on the wealthy and taxing lawyer and accountant fees vs. higher education, pre-school, health care, and other vital social services that sustain a strong public infrastructure. This decision is hardly a ‘tough choice’.
Where we stand on water reform - slowing down in Sacramento
Progress on a bipartisan water deal slowed Wednesday the 29th when Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced competing measures to pay for the package, and legislative analysts warned that the high cost would force lawmakers to cut programs deeply or raise taxes.
It was the harsh reality that $9.4 billion in new debt would cut into an already strapped state budget that appeared to present the biggest obstacle for the bill. "You will either have to cut programs and services more than you already have to or you will have to rain revenues or taxes, or some combination," said Jason Dickerson of the Legislative Analyst's Office.
The portion of the state budget that is dedicated to paying off bonds could rise to 10 percent or more if the bonds were approved, a slice of the budget pie that would be "unprecedented" and could force the state to slow progress on other investments such as schools or high-speed rail service, Dickerson said.
If you want your tax dollars to go towards better schools, more public transit, or any number of better projects, make sure you write Nancy Skinner, Sandre Swanson. Loni Hancock and our other state representatives. Tell them what you think of dams and diversions. There’s still time to make a difference.
See you soon!
United we Meetup, Aaron, Janet S., Tara, Frances, Vince, Yvonne, Sean, Janet F, Mark and Norman -Your DFA Meetup Team
Help in writing this newsletter came from:
Lauren Asher, Institute for College Access & Success
Jesse McKinley at NY Times
Jake on Zimbio.com
Mike Taugher at Contra Costa Times
Tent State University