Governor Brown’s Proposed 2015-2016 State Budget Proposal Combats Planned UC Tuition Hikes

The 2015-2016 state budget proposal released by Gov. Jerry Brown today includes a $120 million funding increase to the University of California system, but there is a catch.

The funding, which is around $100 million less than what UC officials requested, is contingent on tuition and out-of-state enrollments remaining flat and on the UC taking steps to contain costs.

The tuition requirement directly challenges a controversial November vote by the UC Board of Regent to increase tuition by as much as 5 percent each year for the next five years.

UC officials requested an additional $220 million from the state, saying it was needed to avoid the proposed tuition hikes, set to begin this year. Brown’s proposal provides only a previously promised 4 percent increase and urges the UC to work within its budget.

“All cost containment strategies must be explored before asking California families to pay even more for tuition,” Brown said in a statement released by his office today.

The budget also calls on the UC to reduce the time it takes students to graduate, increase the number of students who complete programs and improve the transfer of community college students to four-year colleges and universities.

By comparison, the California State University system received the same $120 million increase as the UC system, as well an additional $25 million for efforts to increase the number of students completing a degree within four years. The CSU system, which has not proposed any tuition increases, “receives roughly half the per student subsidy as UC and has a lower overall cost structure than UC,” the governor’s budget notes.

University of California President Janet Napolitano said in a statement released today that her office is “disappointed the governor did not include sufficient revenue to expand enrollment of California students and reinvest in academic quality at the university.”

“Public universities need public support,” Napolitano said, stating that state funding is plummeting even as more applications roll in then ever before.

Napolitano said the university is receiving $460 million less in funding from the state than it did in 2007, even as thousands more California students receive an education. She expressed concern for the quality of higher education in California if more state funding is not secured.

Kathryn Lybarger, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 3299, a union representing more than 22,000 UC employees, said in a statement released today that the proposed budget is a step in the right direction.

“This is not just a question of more money from the state or only more accountability from University Administrators. It is both. And we are committed to doing our part to help bridge that gap,” Lybarger said.

Following a vehemently protested vote in favor of the tuition hike by the UC Regents committee meeting at the University of California at San Francisco campus in November, Lybarger said the UC system could save about $80 million per year by capping executive pay at $500,000.

She also said the UC system could save $37 million per year by limiting pension benefits for 8,851 UC employees in the senior management and management personnel groupings to the “very generous packages” that their peers at California State University and the California Community College system receive.

Lybarger said the UC system has lost millions of dollars as a result of government safety fines, court-ordered settlements and workplace injuries as a result of refusing to properly staff its medical centers and campuses.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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