Facing State Budget Cuts, Regents Consider Fee Hikes

With Governor's Budget $417.4 Million Short of Expectations, Board Faces Tough Decisions

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SAN FRANCISCO-The UC Board of Regents continued its discussion yesterday about the impacts of the state budget on the university, considering student fee increases as a possible option.

Facing a net cut of about $110 million, the regents were presented with a follow-up on the state budget since their last meeting in January, highlighting options that can be taken to reduce the impact.

Many officials said alternative methods to the cut should be pursued.

"The University of California simply cannot and will not accept the cuts proposed by the governor," said Wyatt R. Hume, the university's acting chief operating officer and executive vice president for academic and health affairs.

Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget, which calls for 10 percent cuts to all state programs, the university was left $417.4 million short of its expectations.

In his presentation, Hume outlined what programs he felt should be prioritized, such as student mental health services, funding for which was increased by $4 million by the student registration fee for this year. Hume also emphasized enrollment growth, increases in faculty and staff compensation and graduate student support.

For possible areas of cuts, the regents weighed the possibility of raising student fees or downsizing the UC Office of the President. The board is not expected to take action until its next meeting in May.

The regents are suggesting a student fee increase of between 7 and 10 percent, with a 33 percent return to aid.

The university's final budget is still being determined, with university officials taking into account recommendations from the state Legislative Analyst's Office proposing a 10 percent student fee increase with 19 percent of that amount going to student aid.

Officials said possibilities of fee increases would be difficult for students.

"A student fee increase is indeed a tax," said ex-officio regent Lt. Gov. John Garamendi. "Where would we be today if we did not have a free higher education system?"

Although Garamendi has proposed a resolution to freeze student fees for the next school year, he tabled the resolution yesterday until the next meeting in May.

Regent Joanne Kozberg said although she agrees with Garamendi's comments, she does not want to impose a cap on next year's fees as the university's budget is still being considered.

"I think we need to have all our options open," she said.

Several students who attended the meeting urged the regents to keep fees from increasing.

"Use compassion instead of focusing on the UC as a business system," said UCLA junior Bernice Shaw.

In order to offset the cost of increased fees, university officials said the board should influence the state government to provide more funds to the university.

"We just can go no further in delivering the education that we feel obliged to deliver after this year if the state does not fund the students as we believe they need to be funded," said UC President Robert Dynes.

Tags: BUDGET, UC BOARD OF REGENTS


Angelica Dongallo covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]



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