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Backers Pushing Tax Increases to Fund Higher Education

Secretary of State Debra Bowen gave backers of a proposed initiative to increase taxes on gas and diesel fuel, as well as as alcohol and cigarettes, approval to gather signatures.

Backers of an initiative to increase taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, alcohol and cigarettes and raise the vehicle license fee to increase funding for public universities and community colleges were given approval Monday to begin gathering signatures by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

The proposed constitutional amendment and statue would impose an additional 2.5-cent per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, a five-cent to $1.65 per gallon increase on alcohol and a 1.25-cent tax on cigarettes and raise vehicle license fees by 0.5 percent of the vehicle's market value.

The University of California and California State University would receive 80 percent of the money generated from the measure, with the remaining 20 percent going to California Community Colleges.

The initiative would maintain state funding for higher education at or above the 2009-2010 levels and student financial aid at or above the 2010-2011 levels. It would also cap student tuition and systemwide fees at 2009-2010 levels.

The measure would generate an additional $2.2 billion in state tax revenue annually, according to an estimate prepared by the Legislative Analyst's Office and Director of Finance Ana J. Matosantos.

Valid signatures from 807,615 registered voters -- 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 general election -- must be submitted by April 15 to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot.

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