UC, CSU face deep cuts but will avoid fee hikes

UC, CSU face deep cuts but will avoid fee hikes »Play Video
California State University Bakersfield is seen in this January 2011 photo.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The chancellors of the University of California and California State University systems said Monday that they don't plan to seek student fees increases this year, despite a state budget proposal that calls for more than $1.4 billion in combined cuts to higher education.

But UC Chancellor Mark Yudof and CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said their promise won't hold if Californians don't agree to tax extensions that Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing for the June ballot.

"He already told Mark and I straight up: If this doesn't pass we're going to come back and cut you some more. We can't afford to take any more cuts," Reed told reporters Monday. "You have to pay for what you get.

Brown, a Democrat, wants to ask voters in a June special election to extend increases on income, sales and vehicle taxes for five years to help close California's $25.4 billion budget shortfall through June 2012. He is trying to win Republican support in the state Legislature to get a two-thirds majority to place it on the ballot, but GOP lawmakers have steadfastly opposed it.

Brown is proposing a combined $1 billion in cuts to UC and CSU, and $400 million in cuts to community colleges. Community colleges would also raise fees by $10 per unit under Brown's proposed plan.

Reed's comments Monday were the most explicit threat to date of the further deep cuts that are possible

The chancellors of all three systems testified at a budget hearing in Sacramento on Monday, where they said they are prepared to make deep cuts to administration, teaching staff and services for students.

They warned, though, that California's renowned higher education system is being jeopardized and they are likely to continue to turn away hundreds of thousands of students.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said if the proposed budget is enacted, his system will have to turn away 350,000 students next year because it will not have enough classes to offer.

"We are particularly good at creating those mid-level jobs" such as firefighters, nurses and mechanics, Scott said. "We are, of course, a bargain, even with the suggested increase of $10 per unit in our tuition next year."

Spokespeople for the Republican leaders in the state Assembly and Senate did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press on Monday.

The UC Board of Regents in November approved a plan to raise undergraduate tuition by 8 percent next fall while offering more financial aid. The hike comes after the 10-campus system increased undergraduate fees by more than 30 percent over the past year to offset deep cuts in state funding that led to staff furloughs, fewer course sections and reduced student enrollment.

CSU trustees voted in November to raise tuition for undergraduate and graduate students by 5 percent for the current winter and upcoming spring terms, and by another 10 percent this fall.