Proposition 30, the ballot measure backed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to raise California taxes, is getting a significant financial lift from tax-exempt foundations that were set up to benefit and perform services for the state's public universities.
According to disclosure filings posted online by the California Secretary of State, a campaign committee calling itself the "California Coalition for Higher Public Education Issues Committee - Yes on 30" has collected $102,650 since the beginning of July from an array of tax-exempt non-profits linked to state universities and community colleges, as well as money from individual donors with links to the schools and their foundations.
Non-profit donors include the Palomar College Foundation, which gave $2400 on September 11, and the University Auxiliary and Research Services Corp. of California State University at San Marcos, with $2950 on September 12.
According to its most recently available public disclosure filing with the Internal Revenue Service, covering the 12-month period ending June 2011, the San Marcos foundation had total revenue of $13.5 million.
Its mission statement says that the corporation provides "administration and other business services" to the school, runs the book store and food services, and administers "research and training grant awards to campus faculty."
The most recently available disclosure report for the Palomar College Foundation, covering calendar year 2010, says the non-profit took in $1.76 million.
The Palomar foundation's mission statement says that "with the support of the community" the non-profit "secures supplemental funding, other resources, and provides program support for the benefit of Palomar Community College and its students."
Other state-linked tax-exempt corporations that have so far contributed to the pro-Prop 30 effort include Cal State San Bernardino University Enterprises Corporation ($2950, September 11); San Louis Obispo's California Polytechnic State University Foundation ($5300, September 5); the Foundation of California State University, Monterey Bay ($1500, September 4); the San Francisco State University Foundation ($6125, August 30); the Humboldt State University HSU Advancement Foundation, ($5000, August 27); the CSULA Foundation of Los Angeles ($5475, September 5); and the California State University Dominguez Hills Foundation ($2950, September 7).
Proposition 30, Brown's bid, is going head to head with a competing tax hike proposal, Proposition 38, backed by civil rights attorney Molly Munger and the state PTA. They tout their measure as being better for education.
But based on recent campaign filings, the governor and the state's big teachers unions, the California Teachers' Association and the California Federation of Teachers, appear to have marshaled the forces of the state university foundations behind their effort.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, one among several groups opposed to any tax increase, has begun a radio campaign against Brown's measure, saying the Munger bid is less politically viable.
We have calls in to the Palomar College Foundation and the University Auxiliary and Research Services Corp. seeking further details about the political involvement of each.
Update: Palomar College Foundation executive director Richard Talmo got back to us by phone this afternoon and confirmed the foundation’s contribution. He added that foundation directors voted to approve the action after a report on the matter from college president Robert P. Deegan, who is an ex-officio member of the non-profit’s board.