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Shofars blasting, Bend the Arc urges yes on Prop. 30

by Jonah Lowenfeld

October 17, 2012 | 5:04 pm

Participants blow shofars at a rally for Prop 30.  Photo by Jonah Lowenfeld

Participants blow shofars at a rally for Prop 30. Photo by Jonah Lowenfeld

Bend the Arc is urging Jewish voters in California to rally behind Proposition 30. 

Gov. Jerry Brown’s measure, which will appear on the November ballot, would collect almost $6 billion in additional revenue to support education, public safety and other public services by temporarily raising sales taxes by a quarter-cent on all purchases, while also increasing income taxes for the state’s top earners.

In their effort, the progressive Jewish group has used all manner of Jewish thematic elements. Bend the Arc launched its campaign in support of Proposition 30 in a sukkah on a Santa Monica beach at the end of September, and on Oct. 15 convened about 40 people in the hot sun at Valley College to hear why students, educators and advocates for public education are urging Jews and other Californians to vote yes on 30. 

At a few points during the press conference, a handful of attendees blew shofars; Bend the Arc called the blasts “a clarion call for justice.”

Symbolism aside, Eric Greene, the organization’s Southern California director, made his case by talking about what might happen if voters reject the measure. 

“The kind of cuts that we’re hearing about are absolutely terrifying,” Greene said. “Weeks being cut off of the school year, more layoffs of teachers.”

The situation facing California’s public institutions of higher education is already pretty dire, according to one Valley College student who spoke at the Oct. 15 press conference. 

Nicole Hutchinson had intended to spend just two years at the community college but is now in her third year of studies there because she can’t get into the oversubscribed classes that she needs. 

“I can’t catch up because the summer sessions have been canceled,” Hutchinson said. 

Should Proposition 30 fail at the polls — and one online poll taken earlier this month by a business group showed support for the measure had dipped below 50 percent for the first time — the situation will almost undoubtedly get worse. Los Angeles’ nine community colleges will have to cut $50 million this year if voters don’t approve the tax hike next month. 

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