Budget proposal bears bad news for UCs

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his 2004-05 budget proposal Jan. 9, including $372 million in cuts to the University of California and a 10-percent in-state undergraduate student fee increase to help close a $14 billion deficit.

    If approved by the UC Board of Regents, the increase would contribute to a total hike of more than $2,500 in 18 months for resident undergraduates. This, when coupled with other cost-saving roadblocks that have maintained the university’s affordability, will undoubtedly deteriorate the latter part of the UC system’s “”quality and access”” tagline.

    The funneling of one-third of the total fee hike revenue to financial aid will decrease to only 20 percent, effectively stripping the one-time guarantee that students from low-income households could receive Cal Grants that cover the entire increase. Access to the University of California is further damaged by Schwarzenegger’s proposed elimination of all state-funded outreach programs and his suggested plan to reduce enrollment by backing out of the California Master Plan for Higher Education’s promise to admit the top 12.5 percent of graduating high school classes.

    State Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton (D ‹ San Francisco) has proposed a solution that would restore between $2 billion to $3 billion by drawing revenue from a temporary upper-income tax increase. The proposal is similar to temporary tax hikes imposed by Governors Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson. California should not waver in its Master Plan promise to keep higher education accessible.

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