LOS ANGELES - A group of public education advocates have begun a movement to tax oil extraction here and throughout the state of California. The revenue will be put into funds for public education, a service that has seen scaled-back funding and rising costs for college students.
Most recently, in California, under Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, college tuition and fees are scheduled to increase for fall 2011 - eight percent at the University of California and 15 percent at California State University.
Many are skeptical of a progressive tax on oil, citing concerns that taxes against billion dollar state industry will just push them to other states with more lenient taxes, or that oil produces will pass these fees over to the consumers and cause the price of gas to increase. However the proposed 15 percent tax on oil extraction isn't as uncommon as some might think, others argue.
Currently, California is the only oil-producing state in the United States that does not charge an oil extraction tax. States such as Texas and Alaska have been charging moderate to moderately high taxes on oil extraction on or offshore. Alaska at one point had an oil extraction tax of 25 percent.
The Rescue Education California group, based in Long Beach, has been working to fix this.
Peter Mathews and Jim Phillips, both public education teachers, founded the group in 1993. The organization has since been involved in struggles to secure funds for public education, and the fight against tuition hikes. In March of this year, the group authored Proposition 1481 and submitted it to the Attorney General. In June activists with the group began circulating the petitions to get registered voters to sign the petition.
The proposal calls for a "15 percent tax on value of each barrel of oil extracted in California. Allocates oil tax revenue to non-capital educational funding: 30 percent to K-12; 48 percent to community colleges; 11 percent each to California State University and University of California."
The group goes on to say that both former governor's Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger enjoyed tuition-free education in the state of California.
If the oil extraction tax had been in place there would have been over $150 billion for public education, based on the 2011 per crude oil prices with over $1 trillion of extracted oil, according to Rescue Education California.
For more information, visit www.rescueeducationcalifornia.org or call (562) 234-3319.