UC President Mark Yudof will ask UC Regents to endorse Brown’s tax initiative

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At the UC Board of Regents meeting Wednesday, UC President Mark Yudof said he will recommend that the board endorse Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative in a future meeting.

In his opening remarks, Yudof moved away from his traditionally “politically agnostic” stance, due to the significant impact the tax initiative would have on the university’s finances. Should Brown’s initiative fail to pass, the cash-strapped university can expect an additional $200 million in cuts from the state.

Yudof said at a press conference that the cuts would trigger UC tuition increases, though he declined to speculate on how much tuition would increase. The CSU plans to take more drastic steps based on the tax initiative, placing all students applying for admission in the 2013-14 academic year on a wait list pending the November ballot results.

The revised version of Brown’s tax initiative announced March 14 would increase the proposed tax on Californians in the highest annual income bracket and temporarily increase state sales tax by a quarter of a percentage point if approved by voters in November.

“In my view, it represents the best opportunity I’ve seen in my four years in California for the state to clamber out of a sinkhole of fiscal uncertainty and move forward into a better, more prosperous future,” Yudof said.

Members of the UC Academic Senate are currently voting on a proposal introduced in early February which addresses the board’s involvement in state politics. The proposal requests that the board endorse specific ballot measures or legislation that would increase revenue to the state and prioritize state allocation of funds to the university.

Academic Senate Chair Robert Anderson said in an early March interview that although public support from the regents for specific state ballot measures or legislation would not “generate millions of votes,” it could still have a significant effect on voter support for legislation impacting the university.

“It could well sway a few hundred thousand people,” he said. “It could persuade people who support the UC.”

University resources may not be used in support of ballot measures, and only the regents may take a position on behalf of the university in support of specific ballot measures, according to the UC Office of the President’s Legal Guidelines for UC Participating in Ballot Campaigns.

Yudof and other UC administrators have been pushing state legislators for a multi-year funding plan to increase the university’s financial stability, he said at the meeting.

“I want everybody to know that one item on the table is a potential buy-out of any tuition increase for the 2012-13 fiscal year,” Yudof said. “I am cautiously optimistic we can get there.”

Alisha Azevedo is the assistant university news editor.