Cal State plans to send a letter to applicants saying, in effect, their chances for admission are higher if the tax hike on the Nov. 6 ballot passes. Tax foes say that’s illegal.

By Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times
September 15, 2012

SACRAMENTO — Hundreds of thousands of applicants to California State University campuses this year will be receiving a warning instead of the typical warm note thanking them for their interest.

The spots they are hoping to fill next year, the prospective students will be cautioned, could evaporate if the governor’s push to raise taxes in November fails. The letter also will say no admissions decisions will be made until a few weeks after the election, a departure from the usual policy of notifying applicants beginning in October.

The likely take-away: Vote Yes on Proposition 30 to help boost your prospects.

“Because enrollment capacity is tied to the amount of available state funding, the campuses will be able to admit more applicants if Proposition 30 passes and fewer applicants if the proposition fails,” says a draft of a letter to be emailed to applicants at CSU Monterey Bay starting Oct. 1.

If the measure passes, it says, “the CSU budget would be less likely subject to cuts, and potentially could be increased in future years.” The missive notes that the Board of Trustees has endorsed Proposition 30 and includes a link to the Yes on 30 campaign.

The next, and final, line of the letter contains the only acknowledgment of arguments against Proposition 30 in the form of a link to the No campaign.

Every CSU campus will send out a similar letter, university officials said. Most of the prospective students are also potential voters, but the officials vehemently denied any political undertones in their message.

“We wanted to give students and parents some sense of context as to why we are [holding] applications until the end of November,” said Claudia Keith, spokeswoman for the CSU system. “We are not advocating one way or the other. We are just laying out the facts of what the budget is and what impact this will have on our budget.”

Anti-tax advocates say CSU is using government resources for a political campaign, which is illegal. On Friday, Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Assn., sent a letter to university officials asserting that their plan appeared to run afoul of the law.

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