One of Ronald Reagan’s legendary lines in a debate with Jimmy Carter was, “There you go again!”
When it comes to the UC and CSU system continually threatening to raise tuition unless the Legislature gives them (even) more money, California taxpayers are crying, “There you go again!”
This annual budget theater is nothing new. It’s been going on for about a decade now. UC and CSU even threatened to raise tuition after voters approved a tax increase in 2012 that was sold on the promise of preventing painful tuition increases. Then-Assembly Republican Leader (and my former boss) Connie Conway led the charge along with former Assemblyman Jeff Gorell to prevent tuition hikes while the Prop. 30 tax increases were in effect.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the CSU system is now proposing to raise fees by $228 next year, to $5,970 – a nearly 4 percent increase. They are demanding nearly $200 million more in state funds that the Governor has proposed.
Meanwhile, the UC system has proposed raising tuition and fees by $342 for in-state students for the 2018-19 academic year – a 2.7 percent increase. This would be the second increase in as many years.
This is despite Governor Brown proposing a 3 percent funding increase for UC in his January budget proposal. UC was counting on a bigger funding increase – 4 percent.
If the Governor has his way, that’s all they’ll get. At his January budget press conference, he told reporters that UC is “not going to get any more. They’ve got to manage. I think they need a little more scrutiny over how they’re spending things.”
As I wrote previously, UC has committed many self-inflicted wounds in recent years that have outraged taxpayers and legislators alike, but administrators and regents apparently haven’t gotten the message.
The Los Angeles Times reported that tempers ran high at a recent UC Board of Regents meeting, where a final tuition hike vote was put off until May. Underscoring the disconnect, former Assembly Speaker – and current UC Regent – John A. Pérez – told the regents that they had a lot of work to do to restore the public’s trust. To which Regent Richard Blum said, “I never heard more nonsense in my life.”
Speaker Pérez is right. Frustration with UC is reaching a boiling point at the State Capitol. Assembly Members Dante Acosta and Catharine Baker have proposed a resolution (ACR 167) calling on UC to reject the proposed tuition increase. The lawmakers are calling on UC to spend its very generous funding allocation more efficiently and prioritize spending where it matters most – educating students.
They should take the lawmakers’ advice. I’d bet that if UC and CSU acted more efficiently, prioritized students, and was more accountable to taxpayers, they would get virtually everything they are asking for in their state budget requests.
Tim Anaya is communications director for Pacific Research Institute.