Hundreds of students from Inland Empire universities and community colleges gathered Wednesday in downtown Riverside to protest cuts to education funding and to support Gov. Jerry Brown's call to extend past tax increases.

Javier Hernandez, a Chaffey College student who attended Wednesday's rally, said more funding for community colleges is vital.

"We don't have as many classes as we used to," he said. "We find ourselves in a campus with more students but not enough funding to accommodate all these students."

Brown's budget proposal calls for deep cuts to the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems. It also calls for a special June election in which voters would be asked to extend a set of tax increases approved in 2009.

If the tax extensions aren't approved, Brown has said there will be deep cuts in K-12 education and other programs.

"Multiple generations are going to be affected by this," said Hector Guzman, a student at San Bernardino Valley College who spoke at the rally. "It's either we fight now and stop this while we can or it's just going to continue and go into the next generation.

"They (state leaders) have already screwed up so much of the K-12 system, and now the kids are dealing with that. Now they're going to have to deal with the issues of the college system."

Jesus Barrios, a Cal State San Bernardino student and part of the group Students for Equal Access to Education, said students want lower fees and more classes.


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"We have a list of demands - an end to higher fees, and end to cutting classes," Barrios said. "Also, for California to get it together as far as where they're putting in money. We need to be putting money into effective programs, not corrupt police departments, corrupt corporations and corrupt prisons."

james.koren@inlandnewspapers.com

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