Here are a few updates ( January 2018):
As many of you know, over the past three weeks, Congress has unveiled and tentatively passed a tax reform plan that significantly impacts higher education and particularly graduate students. Part of the House tax reform bill makes the tuition waivers many PhD students receive as part of our teaching and assistantships taxable income, which would increase the tax burden on some graduate students by thousands of dollars a year.
After the bill’s passage in the House, we commenced a campaign of calling and helping students call their current and home state congresspeople to oppose the provisions that would harm to graduate students, and sent students to D.C. to lobby legislators across the aisle on these issues.
We are glad to report that the Senate version that was passed does not contain this harmful provision, but the fight is not over. The Senate and House must now reconcile the differences between the two versions. As of today, the House Conference Members have been announced and one is from California, Representative Devin Nunes. We will continue to fight this provision and work with the university to protect our graduate students from financial hardship. What you can do to fight this bill:
- Call your representatives! This fight isn’t over until the President has signed the bill, and the House and Senate will both have to vote again before it gets to the President’s desk. Click here to find your representative: https://whoismyrepresentative.com
- Ask your representatives to sign the two letters circulating in the House urging members to protect grad students you can ask you your congressperson to sign.
- Get in touch with us at email@example.com to tell us about how this bill would affect you, either in testimonies we can use in lobbying or as an op-ed we can help place in a local or national newspaper.
- Sign up for the UC Advocacy Network and use their tool to fight the tax reform: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/support-uc/ucan/tax-reform
We will continue to work on this and fight to protect our students!
Here are a few updates from the conference agenda (March 2017):
In March 2017, AGS sent 15 delegates to lobby our California legislators as part of the UC Student Associations annual Student Lobby Conference. This was the largest graduate delegation in AGS history, and the largest graduate delegation at the conference! Our students met with legislators and staff from 11 offices in the Senate and Assembly who represent districts in Orange County.
We focused mainly on the following three issues:
– Higher education access and affordability, including increasing funding from the state for education and prioritizing student hunger and homelessness issues (Budget, AB 214, SB 307)
– Protections for undocumented students and residents, including improving their ability to access resources and education opportunities available to them (AB 1622, SB 68, SB 54)
– Employment protections for research assistances, expanding the organizing opportunities that are already available to teaching assistants. (SB 201)
Our delegates spent the first day attending lobbying and policy workshops led by UCSA staff and other students, and preparing their visits with their undergraduate peers from ASUCI that we lobbied alongside. Then all day Monday was spent at the State Capitol attending meetings with legislators and staff to speak about these issues and how they impact students. Already one of the bills has passed the committee it was in after we spoke during the committee meeting about it (SB 201), and another has passed through the Senate (SB 54)! We will continue to follow up on these and other issues and press our legislators to consider student concerns when they vote.
Policy Briefs by AGS
May 2017 update: See the document below for the current status of bills we’ve lobbied on. Students throughout the UCs have continued to lobby for these bills and will push to get them passed. We’ll keep you updated when we know more.