Santa Cruz Banana Slugs Stand Up

Another California University is taking a stand for higher education.

UC Santa Cruz students, faculty and staff rallied on Thursday, promoting our campaign to keep the doors open to higher education to Central Coast students. Participants at the rally used mobile action stations to send letters to Senator Anthony Cannella and other legislators urging them to protect the UC system from the extreme cuts that some have been promoting as a short sighted attempt to solve California’s budget problems.

Melissa Garcia, a student at UCSC called on Senator Cannella to keep the opportunity of higher education accessible to students across the state.

“My parents knew that education was the only way for our family to get out of the fields and on the path to the American Dream of a middle-class life. We’re here today to ask Senator Cannella to stand up for students from Hollister, Salinas, Livingston and other towns in his district for whom college is the only way out of the cycle of poverty.”

At the rally, Alum Sandino Gomez worried about the consequences of gutting the funding to California public higher education.

“The dream of higher education was passed down by my family who instilled in me a work ethic and an appreciation for education because they wanted a better future for the next generation. If we don’t maintain the revenues the Governor is proposing, I worry that California will have squandered the precious gift of a world-class university system that has been passed down from generation to generation.”

Following the event, rally participants drove to Senator Cannella’s Salinas office to deliver their message directly.

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Valley families looking for leadership

Dozens of local families – including seniors, parents, students and community allies converged on Assemblymember David Valadao’s Hanford office with a simple demand — Please stand up and show real leadership. Extremists in Valadao’s party are proposing cuts to our budget that would devastate everything from public education to local safety, regardless of the impact those cuts would have on local families. These services, which have already been cut to the bone, would face an additional $13 billion in cuts – pulling the rug out from under vulnerable seniors, slashing law enforcement even as crime is rising, and chopping up to a month off our kids’ school year.

Hanford resident and and Fresno City College professor Mark Trezza called out Valadao during the rally.

“We’re calling on Assemblymember Valadao to stop hiding behind generalities and abstractions and tell us where he would make the cuts locally. Whose jobs would he cut in Sheriff Robinson’s Department? In District Attorney Strickland’s office? Which crimes should not be prosecuted? How many teachers should be let go in Kings County? It’s easy to take an abstract position against government. It’s a lot tougher to deal with the reality of more budget cuts in our community.”

According to the Senate Budget Committee, more than 100 Kern County Sherriff’s deputies could lose their jobs, putting public safety at further risk.

But it’s not just public safety. Counties represented by Valadao, which already have some of the highest poverty rates in the state, would face nearly $500 million in education cuts, putting current and future students in jeopardy. And that worries Mary Gonzales-Gomez, a member of the board of the Corcoran Unified School District.

“I’m extremely disappointed that Assemblymember Valadao has stood on the sidelines and let extremists in his party block the solutions we need in order to protect our schools and health care for seniors and families. I’m here to ask him to be the leader our community needs.”

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San Bernadino students fight to keep the dream alive

Higher tuition. Reduced access. The denial of the California dream for hundreds of thousands of students. That’s the reality that students in the public universities face without a state budget that maintains current funding.

That’s why Cal State San Bernadino students, faculty and staff rallied on campus on Tuesday – urging Senator Bill Emmerson and other Inland Empire legislators to keep the dream alive and stand up for higher education. If California colleges and universities don’t maintain existing revenues, hundreds of thousands of qualified students could be turned away.

For student Sean Phillips, that doesn’t add up, and he’s not willing to stand by.

“For students like me who come from struggling families, college is our path to a better future. Today we are launching a campus campaign to Stand Up for California’s future by providing students, faculty, staff and our community tools to help all our voices be heard.”

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CSU Fresno Students fight to keep the doors open

“Keep the dream alive.” That was the message at Cal State Fresno today, as teachers and students rallied in the quad and urged Valley legislators to stand up for higher education. The rally came on the heels of a similar event earlier this week at Cal State Stanislaus.

After the rally, the crowd was able to immediately e-mail Senator Tom Berryhill and other Valley legislators thanks to the mobile action centers setup by student and faculty organizers, generating dozens of e-mails and phone calls. Students took the action back online by hand delivering additional messages and stories to Senator Beryhill’s Fresno office.

Hector Cerda, a graduate student at the college, predicted a grim future unless public universities keep revenues at existing levels.

“For students like me who come from working families, college is our dream, a dream passed down from our parents and grandparents. More cuts will result in higher fees and reduced access, turning this dream into a painful disappointment for too many students.”

Indeed, some valley legislators have proposed cutting up to $15 billion from California’s public colleges and universities on top of the $1 billion in cuts made earlier this year. That’s why students, teachers, faculty, parents and the community gets it. Now they’re making sure legislators get it too.

“If we don’t maintain existing revenues, California risks breaking the promise it made to generations of young people – the promise that if you work hard you can succeed, no matter what your background,” said Lisa Weston, PhD, Chair of the English Department at Fresno State.

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Standing up at Cal State Stanislaus

Students, faculty and staff at CSU Stanislaus want to see Senators Berryhill and Cannella stand with them.

The highlight of the campus rally? Mobile action stations setup by students and staff. The stations allowed every one in attendance to email and call their local legislator and urge them to keep the doors to higher education open in the Central Valley.

CSU and UC systems have already been hit with $1 billion dollars in cuts earlier this year, and without a sensible budget could face $15 billion more in cuts. That would mean hundreds of thousands of qualified students would be turned away from California’s public colleges and universities.

Celeste Mitchell, a CSU Stanislaus senior and former foster child in attendance spoke from the heart about what the cuts could mean.

“Too many people here in the Central Valley live in poverty, and keeping the doors of higher education open is the only way to break that cycle for so many families. After earning my degree, I want to put it to use to help others in my community. Sadly, if fees keep going up and financial aid keeps getting cut, hundreds of thousands of California students won’t have the same opportunity.”

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Fresno farmers and business owners get it: Get California working

The giant tractor parked in front of Senator Tom Berryhill’s Fresno office said it all.

That’s where the statewide Stand up for California tour stopped on Thursday, where local farmers, a yoga studio owner, a financial analyst and small business owners asked the Senator to get California working again by supporting a fair and balanced state budget that includes maintaing existing revenues.

Local farmer Emin Dhaliwal called on Berryhill to break through political lines:

“Valley farmers know that the prosperity of our business is closely tied to the prosperity of our community, our ability to fund police for safe communities, and our investment in our children’s education. That’s why it is imperative that California straighten out its current budget mess and protect core functions like education and public safety.”

It’s the partisan gridlock that has held up the proposal to maintain existing revenues, despite business organizations like the California Chamber of Commerce supporting a budget that includes both cuts and revenues. The chamber also points to a partisan stalemate as an obstacle to job creation and economic recovery. The California Small Business Association, California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association are among the business associations who have supported Governor Brown’s balanced approach to the budget.

Financial advisor and local business owner Artie Rogers echoed calls for fairness and financial responsibility:

“We need a balanced approach with controlled spending and maintaing our tax revenue. We can’t do this with cuts alone; the massive layoffs that would result from an all-cuts budget will mean more foreclosures, more small business closures, and the possibility of stalling our economic recovery. I urge our legislators to pass Governor Brown’s plan to protect jobs so California can get working again.”

Now that Central Valley Californians have taken a stand for California, can you?

Every legislator in every district needs to know just how harmful these cuts are. Not only for California families, but for our already fragile economy. That’s why they need to hear it straight from you.

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Video: Visalia Seniors Fired Up

For years, seniors in Tulare County have been among the hardest hit by state budget cuts. On Tuesday in Visavlia, they fought back and spoke with representatives from Assemblywoman Conway’s office.

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Inland Empire families hop on board

The Thursday before Easter, hundreds of Inland Empire families rallied just before Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Bacarro’s planned “No Tax” tour event in Riverside with a different suggestion – “No More Cuts.”

The families urged Senator Bob Dutton, Assemblymember Brian Nestande and other Inland Empire legislators to join them in supporting a more balanced approach to closing the state budget gap. The plan, proposed by Governor Brown, includes some cuts already signed into law, but would stop the gutting of so many services that California families depend on.

Natasha Gordon, mother and in-home service provider for her 12 year old son who lives with Autism called for sanity:

“I know how much California can achieve when our leaders Stand Up for California with a state budget that invests in all kids, particularly those with special needs. My son Paul has come so far because of services like IHSS and Developmental Disability Services, and he’s just one of many great examples of what California can do when we decide to make our children a priority.”

Also in the crowd was a costumed bunny, who showed that while the Easter Bunny isn’t real, our states need to maintain existing services is. That either means keeping existing revenues, or face the prospect of an all-cuts budget that will devastate local families.

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Visallia seniors fired up over CA budget

For years, seniors in Tulare County have been among the hardest hit by state budget cuts. On Tuesday in Visallia, they fought back.

Dozens of local seniors rallied in front of Assemblywoman Conway’s office to put a face on the the deep cuts that have affected the community, demanding respect for seniors and “no more cuts” to the vital services that help them them healthy and independent.

Visallia City Councilmember Mike Lane joined the seniors rally, praising their action and called for a fair budget that respects California seniors and their contributions to the state.

Nearly nine million California seniors will feel the impact every day, with things like higher healthcare costs and lower SSI/SSP benefits. In the last two decades alone, these benefits have lost one-third of their purchasing power.

Making matters worse, Assemblywoman Conway recently dismissed the impact deep state budget cuts have on real families in Tulare County in a recent Los Angeles Times report. But consider this: one in four residents in the county already lives in poverty, and the Times pointed to Tulare County as among the hardest hit by cuts to services that help families get back on their feet and help poor seniors meet their healthcare needs.

Local senior Fred Davis called on Assemblywoman Conway to reconsider:

“Standing up for California means speaking up for the many elderly in our community who are invisible because budget cuts have taken away their independence. I want Asm. Conway to know that when support services like transportation and adult day health are gone, so is the hope of our seniors. I’m here to ask our leaders to respect our seniors by stopping more cuts that will push them into hunger, poor health, and despair.”

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Modesto and Fresno women to local leaders: “We’re counting on you”

The fight for California’s financial future just hit the Central Valley.

Modesto Rally

Today, dozens of local women rallied held dueling rallies at the downtown Flower Clock in Modesto and at the Water Tower in Fresno to support Governor Brown’s approach to closing the state budget gap, joining together to stop potentially devastating cuts to critical services. Parents, teachers, senior citizens and business owners were out in force, putting their differences aside to protect jobs and move California’s economic recovery forward.

Mary Stanley, an 83 year-old senior from Fresno was among them, urging California legislators to put a halt to the deeper cuts to services that seniors like her rely on.

“Seniors are already struggling to get by after taking cuts from every direction. We like to say in our society that we respect our elders, but we can’t say that if we keep making cuts that hurt them. Cutting back on meals, transportation services, in-home care and adult day health care means that more seniors are going to struggle with accidents, hunger, health problems, and unnecessary institutionalization.”

But it’s not just senior services. Other programs like education, childcare and healthcare all face the same devastating cuts, and could be gutted without quick action.

Every legislator in every district needs to know just how harmful these cuts are. Not only for California families, but for our already fragile economy. That’s why they need to hear it straight from you.

Take a minute to contact your local legislator and ask them to stand up for California.

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