Capitol Alert

UC and CSU prepare for another year of tuition hikes

Facing smaller increases in state budget support than they anticipated, both of California’s public university systems are preparing to raise tuition again next year.

The University of California’s governing board is set to vote Wednesday on a plan that would hike tuition and fees by $342, or 2.7 percent, to $12,972 in the 2018-19 academic year. Out-of-state and international students would see their supplemental tuition, which nonresidents pay on top of other costs, grow by 3.5 percent to $28,992.

Officials say the additional revenue is needed to hire new faculty, increase course availability, expand access to mental health services and fix aging campuses as UC adds students. The university has been rapidly growing its undergraduate ranks in recent years under a deal with Gov. Jerry Brown, and expects to enroll 2,000 more California students than it did last year.

But they also argue that Brown has forced their hand, by providing a boost of only 3 percent to UC funding in his budget proposal, when the university was planning on an increase of 4 percent under a multiyear agreement reached in 2015.

“The state budget process has just begun and we hope to continue conversations with the governor and the Legislature to ensure expanded access for fall 2018 and to restore the university to the funding envisioned in the framework,” UC President Janet Napolitano and Board of Regents chair George Kieffer said in a statement after Brown unveiled his plan earlier this month.

That’s not going to happen, according to Brown. At his budget press conference, he said UC and California State University would simply have to lower their cost structures and “live within their means.”

“You’re getting 3 percent more and that’s it,” he said. “They’re 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.”

Brown has also pointed the finger back at them, making the case in budget documents that when UC and CSU raise tuition, as they did last year for the first time in six years, there is less higher education funding available because the state has to put additional money into its financial aid programs.

Though not yet scheduled for a vote, CSU’s Board of Trustees will also discuss a possible tuition hike at its meeting next week. The plan would raise fees by $228, or nearly 4 percent, to $5,970 in 2018-19.

The university is seeking nearly $200 million more than the governor is offering, to pay for its ongoing graduation initiative, enrollment growth, employee raises and facilities needs. In a statement, Chancellor Timothy White said Brown’s proposed funding alone would increase the CSU budget by less than the rate of inflation.

“This budget proposal could reverse any progress made in the last decade – diminishing student access, success, limiting degree attainment and depriving California’s industries of skilled professionals,” he said. “Additional investment in the CSU and public higher education is both warranted and necessary – providing a return on public investment many times over.”

Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning rundown on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up here.

WORTH REPEATING: “These are very good times, budgetarily speaking. Take a moment to enjoy them” – Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor

WHAT’S GOING ON: In June 2016, California became the fifth state to legalize assisted death, allowing terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to obtain lethal drugs from a doctor. We know that 111 individuals – mostly white and well-educated – successfully used the process to end their own lives in the first six months after it took effect, but not much else about how the law is working. The Assembly Select Committee on End of Life Health Care will hold its first hearing to receive an update from medical providers, health systems, hospice workers and community members, 9:30 a.m. in Room 447 of the Capitol.

MUST READ: The next battle over affirmative action is about discrimination against Asian Americans

A CHANGE IS GONNA COME: After receiving criticism for not coordinating their new policies, Senate and Assembly leaders have combined their efforts to overhaul sexual misconduct protections at the Capitol. The Joint Committee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response, which was formed to improve how the Legislature investigates claims and supports employees who bring forward complaints, will hold its first hearing at 3 p.m. in Room 4202 of the Capitol.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Planned Parenthood celebrates Roe v. Wade anniversary at Capitol

LET’S STAY TOGETHER: Pushed out by party activists last summer for negotiating on climate change, former Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes is on a quest to remake the California GOP. With the backing of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he announced the formation earlier this month of New Way California, an initiative that aims to expand the appeal of Republican policies and reverse the party’s declining prospects in the state. The group will hold a kickoff reception at 5:30 p.m. at Downtown & Vine on K Street.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Reps. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, who is 60; Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who is 67; and John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who is 73.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff