FW: UC AND STATE UNIV. fees would be frozen under governor's budget plan
- College fees would be frozen under governor's budget plan
By JENNIFER COLEMAN
Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to propose
a freeze on fee hikes at California universities next year, the
first financial break for students in several years.
The 2006-07 budget plan will propose an additional $75 million for
the University of California and $54.4 million for the California
State University, a senior administration official said Wednesday.
Both systems had voted to raise that much money with increased
student fees for the fall 2006 semester. If state lawmakers approve
Schwarzenegger's spending plan, the UC and CSU systems would keep
fees at the current level.
Administration officials typically release preliminary details of
the governor's budget before he submits it to the legislature, which
he must do by Jan. 10.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said in November that
an unexpected jump in tax income and ongoing spending cuts will
raise $5.2 billion more than previously projected. That will more
than cover what had been anticipated as a $4 billion shortfall for
next year and leave a reserve of $1.2 billion.
Fees for UC and CSU students have soared in recent years, especially
after regents for both systems struck a deal with Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger to make cuts and raise fees in return for gradual
increases in state funding.
The deal was seen as a way to stabilize the budgets of institutions
that had their funding cut as California endured multibillion dollar
budget deficits. But it also has led to campus protests and
criticism from Democrats who complained that the soaring fees have
unfairly hurt middle- and working-class families.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, commended
Schwarzenegger for proposing the freeze. He has been one of the
legislature's most vocal critics of the rising cost of a college
education in the state.
As a UC regent, he voted against the board's latest fee increase in
November, its fifth in a row.
"Anytime you raise fees at the university, what you're doing is
raising taxes for those students and their families," Nunez said in
a telephone interview.
He said he hoped the proposal was a sign the governor was willing to
work more closely with the Democrat-controlled legislature after
this year's session was dominated by the divisive special election.
"This is a very, very positive overture on the part of the
governor," Nunez said. "It's an expression of good faith that he
indeed is committed to working with Democrats by taking on an issue
that we've been advocating for the last 14 months."
The move is the latest by Schwarzenegger in an attempt to smooth his
image heading into the new year after voters rejected his four "year
of reform" initiatives in November. He previously settled a lawsuit
over hospital staffing ratios that had angered a powerful nurses
union and appointed a Democrat to be his chief of staff.
In November, regents with the 10-campus University of California
voted to boost in-state undergraduate fees by 8 percent, to about
$6,600. Including various campus fees, annual costs will be about
$7,300 if the fees stand. That amount would represent an 89 percent
increase for students since the 2001-02 academic year.
UC graduate students would face a 10 percent rise in fees to about
$9,400 a year, including miscellaneous campus fees. Fees for
professional schools would rise about 5 percent.
The CSU Board of Trustees voted in October to raise fees 8 percent
for undergraduates and 10 percent for graduate students. With the
increases, the 23-campus system will be charging $2,724 per year for
undergraduates in 2006, about 90 percent more than students paid in
Students also pay campus fees, which this year averaged $644
Ultimately, Democrats would like to see higher education fees rolled
back as a way to make college more affordable, Nunez said.
"These were taxes, and when the economy improves, we need to figure
out another way to balance our budget rather than on the backs of
our colleges and universities and the students who attend them," he
Schwarzenegger's budget plan also will add $11.9 million to raise
the maximum amount of Cal Grants for students at private colleges
and universities, the official said. The extra money would raise the
maximum annual grant to $9,708 from $8,322.
Nunez said that move would return the Cal Grant program to its level
of two years ago.
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