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Dump New CSU Fees

Board of Trustees delays vote, one week after Prop 30 is passed.

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Timing is everything in life, but especially so in politics.

Gov. Jerry Brown appeared Tuesday before the California State University Trustees in Long Beach to express appreciation for last week's voter approval of Proposition 30, which spares education from cuts this year.

At that same meeting, the board was scheduled to take up a new round of student fees aimed at discouraging students from taking too many classes or repeating classes.

More fees, right after voters cast an historic decision to raise income and sales taxes in order to support California's public education system after years of tuition increases?

The disconnect was disconcerting.

Brown, who staked his political reputation on passing Prop 30, would've faced an awkward scene of student protesters overshadowing his message -- that of appreciation for voter support.

For Brown's sake, the trustees postponed a vote on the fees, prompting Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to say, via Twitter, that they did "the right thing." But only temporarily.

Outgoing Chancellor Charlie Reed and his advisors say the new fees, to be imposed in the fall of 2013, have nothing to do with budget woes. They argue that the fees are meant to promote efficiency and free up more seats for incoming students.

The fees would apply to students who take more courses than they need for graduation, for repeating a course, and for taking an extra-heavy course load. The problem, not cured by any of this, is that high enrollment and reduced offerings already make it difficult for students to obtain the classes they need for timely graduation.

The CSU Board has engaged in tone-deaf debates before, such as boosting pay for incoming campus presidents at a time of budget cuts.

Raising fees now undercuts the very argument Gov. Brown made in his appeal for voters to support Prop 30. The board would be smart to do more than just put the fees on hold; it should drive a stake through the idea.

Author Kevin Riggs, an Emmy-winning former TV reporter in Sacramento, is Senior Vice President at Randle Communications.

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Related Topics OPINION, CSU, fees, Jerry Brown, Prop 30
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