CA Budget Deal Staves Off Looming In-State UC Tuititon Hike

California residents would not pay more as University of California undergraduates for at least the next two years under an agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano.

The agreement was announced Thursday as part of Brown's revised budget, which also proposes an extra $436 million over three years to offset pension costs.

The 10-campus system could still raise tuition for nonresidents and students earning professional degrees.

The updated budget Brown proposed maintains his January plan to increase the university's $3 billion base budget by $120 million, or 4 percent, and does not include any new money to expand in-state enrollment.

It proposes sending $436 million over three years to UC's pension fund, which is running a multi-billion-dollar deficit and has become a sore point between university and state leaders. The state stopped contributing to the fund in 1990, when the retiree benefit system had more money than it needed.

In return for the infusion, the university has promised to create new pension eligibility rules for future employees, according to a spokeswoman.

Napolitano said the Democratic governor backed down from his requirement to make any additional money contingent on UC not admitting more students from outside California and forgoing any tuition hikes.

"I feel very strongly that this agreement will enable the university not just to survive but to thrive over the next few years," Napolitano said in advance of the budget release.

Brown also said he would not veto an attempt by the Legislature to give the system more money to enroll more California students, as he did last year, she said.

The proposal is a first step toward resolving a political clash over the university's finances that arose in November when Napolitano proposed raising tuition for all UC students by up to 5 percent in each of the next five years unless the system received more money from Sacramento. The UC Board of Regents approved the plan over Brown's objections.

Amid the standoff, Brown and Napolitano formed an unusual subcommittee of just the two of them and their staffs. They had two face-to-face meetings, but most details of their agreement were negotiated by staff members, UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said.

The agreement also includes:

-- Boosting the university's base budget by 4 percent in each of the next four years, a total of $507 million by the time Brown leaves office in January 2019.
-- Holding tuition steady for in-state undergraduates and graduate students pursuing academic degrees until the 2017-18 academic year, when it would be increased "by at least the rate of inflation," according to Klein. The university still will be allowed to increase the $972 "student services" fee all students pay by 5 percent, or $48 this fall.
-- Allowing the university to enroll more out-of-state and international students at seven of its nine undergraduate campuses. Napolitano said she plans to cap the number at UCLA and UC Berkeley, where nonresidents already account for about one in five undergraduates.
-- Raising the tuition premium for non-Californians by up to 8 percent in each of the next five years, from $22,878 this year to as much as $35,013 in 2019-20. The premium comes on top of the in-state rate of $11,220.
-- Increasing tuition by at least 5 percent for all professional degree programs except for UC's five law schools. Graduate nursing programs at four campuses would go up by 20 percent.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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