Vote for UC fee increase delayed

    The vote to increase student fees at the University of California has been delayed due to uncertain circumstances surrounding the state budget, a UC spokesperson said May 9.

    The UC Board of Regents was previously scheduled to vote on a proposed student fee increase at its May 14 meeting in San Francisco — the same day Gov. Gray Davis will release his May revision to the 2003-04 budget. UC officials say the uncertainty of the governor’s revision could possibly include an inflated increase because of skepticism surrounding the current economic situation in California.

    UC officials felt delaying the vote would allow the Regents to assess the university’s financial situation more clearly while also avoiding the possible confusion of more than one fee increase being passed within months.

    “”It seems prudent to address these issues in a single action, rather than acting now and returning again in a few weeks for another vote — an approach that could produce considerable confusion for students and their families,”” said UC President Richard C. Atkinson in a May 9 statement. “”In the meantime, we will continue working aggressively in Sacramento to fight any additional budget cuts that could lead to further fee increases or program reductions.””

    UC officials say that the university has been the target of other lawmakers’ proposed cuts to overcome a mounting state budget problem. Assembly Speaker Herb J. Wesson (D-Los Angeles) has proposed a budget version with an additional $80 million cut from the University of California, in addition to the $900 million-plus that has been reduced from the UC budget within the last year.

    Assembly Republicans have backed a budget proposal that slashes an additional $400 million from the University of California’s allocation.

    The University of California receives about 25 percent of its revenue from the state of California, UC budget analysts say.

    In January, the 2003-04 state budget was estimated to have a $34.6 billion shortfall, but Davis’ May revision will include the recently collected tax revenue from 2002. According to UC Associate Vice President of Budget Planning and Fiscal Analysis Jerry Kissler, the economic problems in California have grown since the January version.

    “”The situation has become worse,”” Kissler said. “”According to the indications we have now, the governor will probably be releasing estimates that are lower than the ones he had in January.””

    Meanwhile, the Board of Regents were expected to vote on a $795-per-year student fee increase for resident undergraduates and a $855-per-year increase in resident graduate student fees at their May 14 meeting.

    The increase was proposed by Davis in January and would be effective fall 2003.

    The Regents voted in December 2002 to raise undergraduate student fees by $405 annually, an increase which took effect Spring 2003.

    UC spokesperson Hanan Eisenmann said the Regents will probably vote on an increase at the June or July meetings.

    The deadline for a 2003-04 budget is to be passed by June 30 as mandated in the state constitution.

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