By Miriam Raftery
December 2, 2014 (Sacramento)—Today Senate Democrats announced a plan to prevent a tuition hike approved by University of California Regents from taking effect for California students. However out-of-state students’ tuitions would increase by 17 percent.
The plan follows an earlier proposal by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). The two plans have similarities, but also differences in their approaches.
Last week, UC’s Board of Regents approved raising tuitions by 5 percent a year for five years, over the objections of the Governor and legislative leaders in both houses. Regents who voted for the increase blamed the state for not boosting funding enough for the UC system. The vote sparked protests at campuses across the state, including UC San Diego.
Now State Senate leader Kevin de Leon, a Demcrat from Los Angeles, would increase state funding for both the University of California and California State Universit sysystems by $156 million during the next fiscal year by shifting funds out of a scholarship program for middle class students. The plan would also create a financial incentive program for CSU students to obtain their degrees in four years.
The plan also aims to increase enrollment at UC campuses by 5,000 students and at CSU schools by 10,500 students over the next year.
UC President Janet Napolitano called the proposal a “promising first step.” She added, “State funding should be adequate to ensure that UC remains the best public university in the world and that tuition is as low and predictable as possible.”
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, introduced a proposal of her own in mid-November. Her plan also called for no tuition hike for California students and an increase of $50 million in funding from the state’s general fund, as well as additional money to help increase enrollment and reduce graduation times for students.
Atkins’ plan would also increase Cal Grants to lessen the financial burden of higher education on lower income families. Unlike the Senate plan, Atkins also wants to accelerate implementation of the Middle Class Scholarship to cut fees for middle income families by more than 20% in 2015-16.
She also wants to cap enrollment of out-of-state students and increase tuition for students from outside California by $5,000, which is still well below other prominent public schools, Atkins says. She adds, “The Great Recession has ended, and funds have been restored to the UC, so the time has come to end the practice of backfilling state cuts with students that pay out of state tuition and push out California students.”
Her plan also calls for pension reforms for new employees, increased requirements for teaching time and limiting pay raises for UC executives.