Capitol Alert

UC budget talks with Janet Napolitano headed in ‘right direction,’ Jerry Brown says

Gov. Jerry Brown, left, greets University of California President Janet Napolitano during a UC Board of Regents meeting Wednesday in San Francisco.
Gov. Jerry Brown, left, greets University of California President Janet Napolitano during a UC Board of Regents meeting Wednesday in San Francisco. The Associated Press

Private talks between Gov. Jerry Brown and University of California President Janet Napolitano have drawn heavy interest amid the leaders’ budget and tuition standoff, so the promise of a briefing on their progress Wednesday drew a crowd.

Meaty stuff?

Hardly.

After announcing that talks are ongoing and that her update would be “brief,” Napolitano told members of the UC Board of Regents that she and Brown have met twice, with “far-ranging” conversations including enrollment and cost concerns.

Brown’s staff has visited three campuses and plans to see four more, and the two have heard from experts whom Napolitano did not identify. She said she has met with students, as well.

“Hopefully, in the near future, without putting a concrete date on it,” Napolitano said, “we’ll be able to return to the board with some concrete proposals.”

Brown was no more illuminating about the substance of the talks, though he said they are heading in the “right direction.”

The leaders’ meetings are expected to include everything from teaching loads and employee compensation to online education and proposals to grant college credits for work experience.

When Brown and Napolitano formed their “committee of two” in January, it represented a potential break in the feud over funding levels and tuition rates at UC. They have been at odds since the UC president proposed raising tuition by as much as 5 percent annually over each of the next five years if Brown and the Legislature do not give UC more money than proposed.

Brown rejected that funding request, conditioning more modest funding increases on tuition remaining flat.

Students at the meeting again argued against increasing tuition, with some standing on chairs and removing their shirts in protest.

Melvin Singh, a student at UC Santa Barbara, told regents he appreciated the work of Brown and Napolitano. But he objected to the exclusivity of their meetings.

“We need a committee that not just represents a committee of two, but a committee of 240,000,” he said, approximating the number of students in the UC system.

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.

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