SAN FRANCISCO – University of California President Janet Napolitano prevailed Thursday in persuading the system’s governing board to authorize five years of tuition increases, a politically risky move likely to ignite months of debate to determine if the costs ultimately fall on students or taxpayers.
Over the shouts of demonstrators and the opposition of Gov. Jerry Brown, the UC Board of Regents voted 14-7 to approve increases of as much as 5 percent in each of the next five years unless the state devotes more money to the 10-campus system.
Napolitano said the tuition hikes, which would increase the cost of a UC education by 28 percent by fall 2019, are needed to maintain the quality of the nation’s largest public university system, promote stability and accommodate more students in the face of inadequate funding from Sacramento.
Approval shifts the question of whether the increases will be enacted or averted to Sacramento, where the governor and legislative leaders will start negotiating in January over the university system’s budget for next year.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who joined Brown in voting against the hikes, predicted the talks would include trying to boost that funding beyond the additional $119 million now budgeted so a tuition increase in fall 2015 could be averted or reduced.
But Newsom said the gamble Napolitano took in trying to force the governor’s hand without allowing time to consider alternatives could backfire.
“They have completely divided themselves and created a rift that I have not seen in four years between themselves and the governor and the Legislature, at a time when the governor was more amenable to more funding,” Newsom told KGO Radio. “This whole process was, I don’t want to use the word ‘despicable,’ but I will.”
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