‘Hey Governator, what do you say?’

Evonne Ermey
City Times

“Hey Governator, what do you say? How many programs you cut today?” was the rally cry City College protesters used to grab the attention of downtown pedestrians as they marched the 25 odd blocks from City College to the San Diego County Administration Building on Feb. 26.

The protesters, ranging in number from 20 to 30, were made up mostly of Associated Student Government and Promethean Workers Association members unhappy with the recent budget cuts passed by the California Legislature in February.

As reported earlier this semester by City Times, City College alone faces $1.8 million in budget cuts for the 2009-10 school year.

State programs slated for the cutting block include CalWORKS, Medical, MTS funding and education. The cuts, along with tax increases, are the legislatures response to the $42 billion gap in the California budget.

San Diego Police Officer Cory Mapston said there have been four budget-cut protests downtown in the past two months.

Needless to say, students concerned about state funded education benefits and or reliant on public transportation or state funded childcare are nervous about what is to come.

“The programs they are cutting right now are all the programs that are helping the needy. Why are you going to cut programs for the neediest of needy people in an economic downpour?

They can cut some tax benefits from the multibillionaires in Hollywood,” said Josef Shannon, co-coordinator of the rally and Associated Student Government vice president.

Shannon, who relies on both medical and public transportation to get to school, is one of many who will be directly affected by the cuts.

“If it comes down to it I’ll live with it. I don’t like it, but you have to live with it.” Shannon said. In the meantime he is taking to the streets to raise awareness.

The message ferried downtown by the demonstrators was received mildly by passers by. Some honked and hooted to show support others rolled their eyes and others simply stared.

Gina Reza, a visitor to San Diego, pulled over in her car to watch the protestors and listen as they began to read a list of programs to be cut. Completely unaware of the budget cuts, she was sympathetic to the demonstrator’s message, but “absolutely opposed to raising taxes”

“I am absolutely opposed to raising taxes. That would affect us.” She said gesturing to her husband sitting next to her.

Tax increases in the budget include a 1 percent sales tax and a 0.25 percent personal income tax increase. A gas tax increase of 12 cents a gallon was proposed in the budget, but ultimately did not pass.

City College economics professor Alex Obiya has been teaching at City for 19 years. He sees raising taxes as imperative to fixing California’s economic crisis, though he acknowledges it is not a popular alternative for most politicians.

“Most economists agree that the only way to come out of this is to raise taxes anyway because there is no way else. When the economy is bad you have to at least provide some kind of public assistance to people who are unemployed or on welfare and those that go to college need some kind of assistance also,” said Obiya.

“The problem we have now is that the whole world is suffering. It’s a global issue now. This state is dependent on exports and trade from China and Mexico and all the other countries.

Obiya predicts it will take a long time “at least five years” for California to attain financial stability.

In the meantime Joseph Shannon plans to continue protesting. He will be attending a budget protest in Sacramento March 16 and is planning another City College protest for sometime in April.

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‘Hey Governator, what do you say?’