Gov. Jerry Brown is on quite the winning streak.
First, the passage of his tax initiative, Proposition 30, swooped in to prevent a devastating $500 million cut to the California State University and University of California.
And now, Jerry Brown has been partially credited with the decision by both the governing bodies of the UC and CSU to postpone voting on proposed fee hikes at both campuses.
While it may seem as though students have the state’s highest authority as our steadfast ally, the fight for an affordable education is not over and the postponed fees are just that: “postponed.”
It’s not as if these proposed fee hikes involved the typical across-the-board fee increases for undergraduates.
The CSU Board of Trustees had planned to vote to increase the dollar-per-unit cost for “super seniors” ““ students who have either reached a certain unit limit, or those simply retaking classes or overloading on classes superfluous to their degree.
While the decision has been attributed to the need for more “discussion,” CSU administrators have considered these changes since July. While the fee will address some financial concerns, the primary goal is to ensure students graduate on time and that classes are open for students who need to take them.
The CSU’s proposed fee increases are a necessary streamlining mechanism that will allow the institution to serve their population in the most efficient manner possible.
As such, removing it from the table, even temporarily, hamstrings an institution in need of innovative budget solutions.
In terms of the UC, the postponed vote would have only affected certain graduate programs and would vary in dollar amount. This would not have been an across-the-board increase, but rather planned to address the financial need of specific programs.
Regardless of your view on these tuition hikes, Brown’s imposition on these discussions comes across as more of a political move than one made in the interest of students.
From Brown’s purview, any fee instituted so soon after Prop. 30′s passage would sit poorly with California citizens and might be seen as a contradiction of statements made during his long-fought campaign for the measure.
And there’s evidence that Gov. Brown may have exaggerated the benefits of Prop. 30. In a radio interview before the Nov. 6 election, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom openly stated that Gov. Brown misled voters about Prop. 30 because he failed to mention the fact that tuition will still likely increase for students in the 2013-2014 school year.
Next year’s UC budget, which was passed on Nov. 14, hinges on an additional $276.5 million in state support on top of the $125.4 million allocation to the UC that was contingent on Prop. 30′s passage.
If the past decade serves as any indication, this hopeful bid for state support will likely fall short of its projection and students will be left to carry the slack.
Newsom carried that exact sentiment into the Regents meeting this week as the only member to vote against the proposed budget, citing its unrealistic goals and openly predicting further tuition increases.
And he is right. These UC Regents meetings mimic Groundhog Day ““ the same roundabout course over and over again.
But for now I’ll sit comfortably without a troublesome thought to mid-year tuition increases ““ at least until next year, when those fee increases show their faces once more.