Republicans propose tuition freeze to supplement Prop. 30

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On Jan. 7, Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that would freeze tuition hikes for the next seven years in recognition of Prop. 30, a tax increase that protected the UC system from a $250 million midyear budget cut.

The identical bills — Senate Bill 58 and Assembly Bill 67 — would allocate funds from the general fund to higher education systems in order to prohibit tuition increases starting in the 2013-14 school year and continuing for the next seven years while the tax increases from Prop. 30 are in effect, according to a summary of SB 58.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates about a $6 billion increase in tax revenues from the proposition. However, a press release from Republican Senate and Assembly leaders stated that Prop. 30 does not guarantee funding increases for either the CSU or the UC, despite what proponents of the measure have claimed.

Additionally, the proposition does not explicitly limit other entities from raising fees, said Sen. Anthony Canella, R-Ceres, the author of SB 58.

UC spokesperson Brooke Converse said that although the proposals are still being reviewed by university legislative analysts, the bills would definitely affect the UC system’s budget.

Cannella recognizes that the passage of his bill will be no “cakewalk,” but he hopes to find bipartisan support. As a result of November’s election, Democrats currently hold a supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature.

“I hope that all legislators understand the importance of this bill so we can uphold the promise to our students and give peace of mind that there will be no tuition increases, period,” Cannella said.

John Vigna, press secretary for Assembly Speaker John A.Perez, D-Los Angeles, saw the proposal as a “welcomed sign that the Republicans are engaging in higher education funding.”

But according to Vigna, the primary problem with the Republican proposals at this point is that the legislation does not identify how to fiscally compensate for the proposed tuition freeze. By contrast, Vigna said that Perez’s failed Middle Class Scholarship Act, which is expected to return to the Legislature this spring, had a clear source of funding.

Senate Republican Education Consultant Roger Mackensen said the “compensation” for the proposed tuition freeze would be provided by the tax increases from Prop. 30.

“Specific mention was made that if Prop. 30 did not pass, fees would rise, and that if it did pass, the dollars would go to education,” Mackensen said in an email. “These two bills are intended to uphold that covenant.”

Contact Alex Berryhill at [email protected]