A state Assemblyman from the East Bay is rallying with San Francisco college students this afternoon to promote a tax on oil production to stanch the ongoing cutbacks, furloughs and fee increases in California’s higher education systems.

Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, planned to participate in a 12:30 p.m. rally at San Francisco State University.

He is the author of Assembly Bill 656, which would tax oil companies for every barrel of oil extracted in the state to fund higher education. California is the only oil-producing state in the nation that doesn’t have a “severance tax” on oil, Torrico spokesman Jeff Barbosa said.

Similar taxes have been proposed and shot down in the past due to strong lobbying efforts by oil groups, Barbosa said. But as California faces a $20 billion deficit and prison spending outpaces that of the state university and college systems combined, many education groups have signed on as supporters of the bill, he said.

“We have to look for alternate sources of revenue,” Barbosa said. “Everyone seems to recognize that our priorities might not be in the right place when it comes to spending more on prisons, but we have to look for alternate sources of revenue.”

The proposed 12.5 percent severance tax would generate almost $2 billion in revenue, according to Torrico’s office. The bill would divide the money between the University of California, California State University, and California Community College systems.

The rally is taking place at Malcolm X Plaza, 1600 Holloway Ave.

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