Although California legislators met their constitutional deadline and approved a $92.1 billion budget on Friday, the university still faces cost increases over the next fiscal year that could lead to a tuition hike at the next UC Board of Regents meeting in July.
Seven budget bills passed in both houses well before Friday’s midnight deadline, despite Republican opposition. Now Democrat legislators must undergo a negotiation process with Gov. Jerry Brown in order to resolve a several million dollar gap and conflicts over welfare cuts.
Brown has not yet issued any official response to the legislature’s budget plan.
The plan offers no solution to UC officials, who have been asking the state for a $125 million tuition buyout that would prevent a proposed 6 percent tuition increase required to meet the $326 million in cost increases predicted over the next fiscal year.
“We are still advocating for a tuition buyout,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein in an email. “We are continuing to explore all avenues, among them system-wide efficiencies, increased philanthropic support, debt restructuring, and cutbacks throughout the system.”
After the estimated state budget deficit grew from $9.2 to $15.7 billion, Brown released a revised budget plan in May. According to the revision, the deficit increase was a result of a reduced revenue outlook, higher costs to fund schools and decisions by the federal government and courts to block previous budget cuts.
The revised budget plan assumes the success of the governor’s proposed tax initiative in the November polls. The initiative would increase the personal income tax on individuals with an income greater than $250,000 for the next seven years and increase the sales tax by one-quarter percent over the next four years. According to the governor’s estimate, the initiative would generate $8.5 billion over the next budget year.
If Brown’s tax initiative is voted down in November, the university might lose $200 million in a mid-year cut, and students could face “possibly a double digit increase (in tuition),” according to Klein.
Although Democrats in the state legislature are on board with Brown’s plan to temporarily raise taxes, they disagree with him on the cuts to CalWORKs, the state’s welfare-to-work program.
The budget plan also fails to address concerns over cuts to financial assistance for low- and middle-income families, according to ASUC External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi.
Whereas the original plan had outlined a decrease of 61.7 percent to the California Student Aid Commission from the previous year, according to a report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the revised budget now includes an additional $50 million loss for the program.
Brown has also asked for measures that would require a minimum GPA for Cal Grant eligibility, which could affect as many as 26,600 students.
“We are crippling the program,” Abbasi said. “And it’s on the back of low- and middle-income families.”
State legislators passed the budget by their June deadline under the threat of suspended salaries. Proposition 25, passed in 2010, requires state legislators to forfeit salary and expenses if the budget is not passed by June 15. The measure also changed the legislative vote requirement necessary to pass the state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority, allowing Democrats to pass the budget without any Republican support.
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