The group was protesting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed plan to decrease higher education funding by $1 billion—a move that may force student fee increases of 7 to 10 percent in the University of California system. The state is facing a projected $16 billion deficit.
The demonstration was supported by Democratic Legislature members, along with Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, whose office worked with student groups from community colleges and the UC and California State systems. "There is no more important investment for California than students," Garamendi told the crowd. "You are the intellectual infrastructure of California."
The Democratic lawmakers reassured sign-waving, drum-beating, slogan-chanting students they would not allow the state to cut higher ed funding. "This is not a complicated problem," said Senate leader Don Perata. "We need to raise taxes." Good luck with that.