Capitol Alert

California universities could get $100 million boost

California’s public universities could get a $100 million infusion through legislation announced on Monday.

A surge of revenue has solidified California’s once-precarious financial position. Budget negotiations this summer produced a compromise that, if local property tax revenue exceeded projections, some of the surplus could be redirected from the state’s general fund towards higher education. Student activists and university officials have long decried a lack of funding, pointing to overcrowded classes and graduation delays.

As of July there was not enough extra property tax revenue to trigger the college outlay. But now lawmakers are saying that there is still enough money available to allocate the extra college money.

Citing an unexpected windfall of revenue from streams other than property taxes, the office of Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said a Senate Budget Committee bill would serve as a vessel to push through the infusion. Senate Bill 872 has already passed the Senate and sits in the Assembly.

“Other taxes came in even better (than property taxes), so now the attempt here is to accomplish the same ends under slightly different circumstances,” said Atkins spokesman Will Shuck.

In an interview with The Bee before the legislative session resumed on Monday, Atkins touched on the common “gut-and-amend” practice of inserting new language in existing bills late in the legislative session, circumventing some stages of the committee process. She pointed to ensuring more higher education funding as a worthy use of the tactic.

“I will be trying to make that pledge and promise to UC and CSU real by presenting legislation, or there will be legislation presented,” Atkins said. “Given that the general fund revenues are higher than anticipated, we should be able to do that.”

Officials from the Department of Finance or the office of Gov. Jerry Brown were not immediately available for comment.

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