A California state legislator proposed a constitutional amendment Monday to impose a cap on any tuition increases at public universities.
In addition to limiting annual fee increases to 10 percent, the bill would require schools to delay all increases by 180 days before implementing them. Jeff Denham, republican state senator from Merced, authored the legislation, which was introduced to the California State Senate as the Student Protection Act.
Denham’s press secretary, Jann Taber, said the bill is a direct response to tuition increases at the University of California in November, when the school’s Board of Regents approved a 32 percent tuition increase.
“What inspired him to [introduce the bill] now was when he heard about the outrageous fee increases in November, mid-term and giving students very little notice and no time to plan,” Taber said. “A lot of students and families don’t have that extra income. It could make the difference between staying in school and not staying in school.”
The bill proposes an amendment to the state constitution, and will require support from two-thirds of the state legislature in order to become law. Taber said the bill has already received bipartisan support, including the endorsement of local republican Sen. Tony Strickland.
Despite initial support from legislators, the University of California has expressed concern about legally capping tuition.
“We share the senator’s concern about fees and about the need to keep the fees as low as possible,” University of California spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said. “In the past, the University has been concerned that putting a cap on student fee increases is not tied to receiving adequate state funding.”
The California State University System has not taken a position on the bill, but spokesman Erik Fallis said the school system is primarily concerned with state funding.
“The CSU does not have a position on the bill,” Fallis said. “However, the largest factor in student fee policy is the level of state budget support for public higher education.”