By Larry Gordon, Teresa Watanabe and Carla Rivera
May 14, 2015
The big winners in Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to sharply increase education funding are California undergraduates at UC, who will have their tuition frozen for two more years, and the millions of elementary, secondary and community college students who are likely to see more teachers and counselors hired on their campuses.
With state revenues growing faster than previously expected, Brown said Thursday that he wants to pay down $436 million in UC’s pension debts over the next three years and boost spending by $3,000 for each of the state’s 6 million K-12 students. Additional money will also be given to public schools with large numbers of low-income students.
Brown’s revised budget was welcomed by campuses and school districts that had suffered layoffs and cuts in programs during the recession.
“This is spectacularly good news and a huge opportunity for schools,” said David N. Plank, executive director of the Policy Analysis for California Education, a research partnership of Stanford University, UC Davis and USC. “We’re finally coming to an end of a cycle where we’re restoring what was cut in 2007. This is a moment where districts can launch in new directions.”
The two-year tuition freeze for undergraduate state residents at UC is the highlight of an agreement between Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano after months of negotiations to avoid threatened increases as high as 5% in each of the next five years. In-state students now pay about $12,200 a year for basic systemwide tuition and fees; that figure is triple what it was in 2002.
Out-of-state students — whose rising numbers have irked legislators and California families — are expected to face 5% tuition increases to about $36,900 next year, and further hikes in later years, officials said. Graduate students from California and elsewhere in such professional programs as medicine and business administration will see increases that vary by campuses and discipline.
Starting in the 2017-18 school year and in the following year, UC tuition for Californians will rise again in a formula that will involve the general inflation rate but will be capped at 5% annually, according to the plan.
“I think we’ve reached a very good agreement from the perspective of the university and for California,” Napolitano said in an interview. The pact, she said, will produce “a tremendous period of predictable tuition for California residents and will provide the additional financial resources we so sorely needed.”
Brown said that his proposal to pay some of UC’s pension debts will “stabilize their finances going forward” and that the agreement to freeze tuition for another two years “is very good indeed.”
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