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Voter Backlash Forces SB 1146 Sponsors to Back Down


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Voter Backlash Forces SB 1146 Sponsors to Back Down


In response to an overwhelming voter backlash against SB 1146 for harming minority students and religious schools, its sponsor was forced to pull the primary provisions of his bill a week before it had been predicted to pass, admitting it would have "unintended" consequences.

This is a huge win for California voters, for minority students who would have had their college dreams crushed by SB 1146, and for religious freedom.  

Even a week before Sen. Lara was forced to gut his bill, many were predicting it would pass easily. But then voters began to learn about how SB 1146 would target lower income minority students, taking away the Cal Grants they depended on to pay for school in an effort to punish religious colleges that did not share Sen. Lara's beliefs.

The response from voters was swift and forceful. In less than a week, over 100,000 California voters signed a petition calling for SB 1146 to be blocked and students who were victimized by SB 1146 spoke out publicly, putting a face on the bill's many potential victims.  

As sponsors started to drop off the bill and it became clear California legislators would not vote for a bill that victimized minority college students, no matter how that harm was justified, the Cal Grant provisions in the bill were pulled.

“My parents originally came here because they were farm workers. It was only because I received a Cal Grant … that school became an option for me,” says Jorge Cubillos, who was the first in his family to attend college.

 

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SB1146 Harms Minority Students and Costs Hundreds of Millions of Dollars


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SB1146 Harms Minority Students and Costs Hundreds of Millions of Dollars


SB 1146 is the second time in recent years that a faction within the California legislature has proposed a law which takes Cal Grant money away from poorer minority students attending non-profit private colleges and redirects the funding to state colleges. This latest attempt would deny Cal Grants to tens of thousands of minority students who chose to attend an accredited non-profit college in California with a religious affiliation.

3 out of 4 students who would have their Cal Grant taken away by SB 1146 are poor minority students. Many of these students will no longer be able to afford college if they lose their Cal Grant, and the state schools that the politicians are pushing them into have MUCH lower graduation rates.  

SB 1146 represents politics at its worst.  It will steal the dream of college from low-income Latino and African American students—many of whom are the first in their families to go to college—and cost California taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. All so politicians can check a political box.

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What is SB 1146?


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What is SB 1146?


SB 1146 is a bill before the California legislature that would take Cal Grants away from students who attend accredited California religious colleges. All of the victims of SB 1146 are low-income students, and 3/4 of them are racial minorities. SB 1146 would force students to either give up on college altogether or try to find another school where they could use their grant. 

There simply is not space in the already overcrowded University of California/California State University systems to accept all of these displaced college students.  SB 1146 would thus force many poor African American and Latino students to give up on their dreams of being the first in their family to finish college. 

For students who are able to transfer to a state college, they will be forced into schools with dramatically lower graduation rates. The four-year graduation rate for Cal Grant students in the religious schools targeted by SB 1146 is 59%, compared to only 28% in the state schools SB 1146 is forcing them into. Poor and minority students have enough stacked against them without SB 1146 forcing them out of the colleges they chose into ones that fail much more often in equipping their students to graduate.  

Whatever the political spin SB 1146’s sponsors are placing on the bill, the numbers make it clear that SB 1146 will kill the dream of college for thousands of poor minority students, and force the remainder into schools where most of these displaced students will not be equipped with the tools to graduate. The sponsors of SB 1146 can say it’s about ending discrimination, but SB 1146 would be one of the most backward and discriminatory bills passed in years in our state. 

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SB 1146 Would Cost California Taxpayers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars a Year


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SB 1146 Would Cost California Taxpayers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars a Year


There is no way that all of the students punished by SB 1146 would be able to transfer into state colleges.  Many would have to give up on their dream of a college degree.  But if they somehow were all able to attend state schools instead of dropping out of college, the cost to California taxpayers would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year!

Even if only half the students victimized by SB 1146 are able to go to state schools, SB 1146 would still cost taxpayers nearly 100 million dollars a year. This is because state schools are heavily state subsidized, making the cost per student for state taxpayers dramatically higher. 

SB 1146 discriminates against minorities.  It will crush the dreams of many poor minority students.  And it will add an unsustainable burden to the state budget.

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Legislative Process


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Legislative Process


On May 26, SB 1146 passed the California Senate and went to the California Assembly for consideration. Here's the upcoming schedule: 

August 3: Scheduled for California Assembly committee hearing 

August 11: Scheduled for committee vote

August 19: Tentatively scheduled for full California Assembly vote