The University of California Board of Regents wrapped up their third and final day of meetings yesterday at UC Los Angeles, officially submitting their 2008-09 budget to the state.

The budget, which encompasses $3.46 billion in spending, represents a 7.2 percent increase over last year’s financial plan. Highlights include salary increases for faculty and staff and increased collaboration with California’s K-12.

The new budget could mean further increases in student fees. However, the regents will wait until the California state budget is finalized before discussing the issue in January. According to a press release, today’s budget assumes $70.5 million in either state revenue or student fee increases.

UC Spokesperson Paul Schwartz said it was not yet known whether fee increases will follow.

“[The fee increase discussion] was pulled from this meeting’s agenda,” Schwartz said. “It’s expected to come back at the January meeting. It was only slated to be discussed at this meeting as part of the overall budget, but we do expect that it will be taken up again.”

The University of California Students Association has opposed the possible fee increases. The University-wide group staged a protest at Wednesday’s board meeting in which they, along with ex-officio Regent and California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, urged a halt to the fee increases.

Additionally, a proposal to increase chancellor salaries by 33 percent over four years was tabled until January’s meeting.

The regents’ proposed budget earmarks money for several key initiatives, including the possibility of a 2.5 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment and allocates $10 million in financial support to help attract additional graduate students.

The budget also allocates $5 million toward the Educational Imperative, which centers on K-12 outreach. The program will provide teachers additional training in order to help deliver more rigorous academic content, among other proposals. In a press release, Provost and Executive Vice President Wyatt R. Hume stated that the program would benefit the UC in the long term.

“Throughout its history, UC has mobilized its teaching, research and public service mission to respond to crises that have confronted California’s economic prosperity and the quality of life of its citizens,” Hume said. “The University’s recent long-range planning efforts have resoundingly concluded that it must now do the same to meet today’s K-12 education crisis.”

The financial plan also includes a 5 percent compensation package for faculty and staff that accounts for increases in the cost of living. The increase attempts to make University salaries closer to the market rate salaries offered at private schools.

Additionally, the regents voted at today’s meeting to oppose Proposition 92 – an initiative meant to guarantee funding for state community colleges – on the grounds that it would allegedly leave fewer discretionary funds in the state treasury for UC programs.

University of California President Robert C. Dynes said in a press release that he believes the expanded budget will help the UC system adapt to a changing environment in the field of higher education.

“This budget is a roadmap for turning vision into action,” Dynes said. “The vision is to meet the growing and changing needs of California. With adequate funding support, we can turn that into action by building and maintaining the quality of UC’s teaching and research core.”