Capitol Alert

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Higher education groups kicked off a day of action at the state Capitol this morning with a march from Sacramento's Southside Park the to the Capitol steps.

Thousands chanted "students united, we'll never be divided" and waved signs that urge "students before banks" and "fund my future."

The "Fund our Future" rally, which was organized by the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, California State Student Association and the University of California Student Association, plans to call on lawmakers to increase funding for higher education. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Speaker John A. Pérez, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, are among the speakers scheduled to address the group on the West Steps of the Capitol.

Organizers of the rally estimated that the crowd of students and higher education supporters would reach 10,000.

While a coalition called REFUND California held a press call to voice support the California Teachers Federation's "millionaire's tax" ballot proposal, a spokesman for the "Fund our Future" rally said the organizers of that march are "not taking any specific policy positions right now" on the competing tax measures.

"This rally is not focused on that issue," UCSA communications director Darius Kemp said. "It's focused on making government properly fund higher education."

Still, the UCSA President Claudia Magana joined REFUND organizers, who plan to rally near the Capitol later this afternoon, on their morning call.

"Students have had enough. We've been having pay increases every year, budget cuts," she said. "We're paying more and getting less."

She said her association has endorsed the millionaire's tax because "it taxes the folks that can afford to give back and need to give back" to raise more money for higher education.

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