Despite objections from several thousand students, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a 7 to 10 percent University of California fee hike yesterday, as part of his 2007-08 California State Budget revisions.
Schwarzenegger’s revised budget plan, which will now be forwarded to the state legislature for approval, allocates $5.5 billion to the UC system, but maintains the UC Regents’ proposed student fee increases from their March 14 meeting. If approved by the legislature, undergraduate and graduate students will pay 7 percent more, or roughly $450 a year, while the fees for select law and business schools will increase by an average of 10 percent.
Members of the UC Student Association, a student lobby organization focused on lowering student fees, said they were unhappy with Schwarzenegger’s revised budget because it did not provide a $71 million “buyout” to cover the regent-approved fee hikes. The buyout refers to a possible deal wherein the governor could have decided to move money from the budget allocated to other items back into the UC system, thus avoiding any reason for a fee increase. Such a situation occurred last year.
UCSA President and UCSB Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Bill Shiebler said the budget neglects California’s students and their families.
“Today, Gov. Schwarzenegger released his revisions to the 2007-08 California State Budget with much disappointment to California’s hardworking students and families,” Shiebler said. “As in the January budget proposal, the governor has once again turned his back on higher education by maintaining a 7 to 10 percent increase in fees.”
According to Schwarzenegger’s official website, the revision adheres to the Higher Education Compact – a long-term agreement between the governor and both the UC and California State University systems. The compact, which lasts through 2011, sets a schedule for increasing student fees in moderate amounts to coincide with state budget projections.
Second-year classics major Todd Hunt said he feels paying elevated fees for education is not acceptable.
“I feel it is unfair,” Hunt said. “If there is going to be changes on the UC campus, then sure you can increase fees, but if there are not going to be improvements, then I don’t feel it is justified.”
A UCSA press release said UC students protested the increase by sending over 12,000 postcards and 3,000 letters to the state legislature, lobbying in-district and at the Capitol and testifying at Budget and Education Committee hearings.
Shiebler said the 2007-08 budget sets a dangerous precedent for future fee hikes. In the next month, before the budget is finalized, UCSA plans to continue pressuring legislative leaders, he said.
“It is time for the legislature to address the UC access and affordability crisis and take a stand for the future of higher education,” Shiebler said.