Students Gear Up to Revive UC Fee Buyout

    With no prospect of another state buyout of student fee increases, lobbyist groups are gearing up for intense politicking with legislators to spare UC students from a potential hike.

    Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used millions from the state budget, which was enjoying a surplus at the time, to cover a planned $492 fee increase. Schwarzenegger did not guarantee any similar moves beyond that year, however, and last week the governor offered no buyout option in his preliminary state budget.

    Currently, students should expect a 7-percent boost to mandatory systemwide student fees, according to UC Office of the President spokesman Brad Hayward. The increases could be as high as 10 percent for some professional schools.

    The UC Student Association hosted a call-in drive last week in an attempt to convince legislators to revive the buyout option. The group’s board members will meet this weekend to generate a lobbying plan before a full-scale effort late next month in Sacramento, according to UCSA Organizing Director Ruth Obel-Jorgensen.

    Forcing Schwarzenegger to offer another buyout could prove a daunting task for students, especially with the state facing a fiscal deficit this year. The governor’s decision to not include a buyout was ‘one of many budget decisions that made’ to close that deficit, which budget spokesman H.D. Palmer added has been downsized significantly from the predicted deficit since the governor was sworn to office in 2003.

    UCSA President Bill Schiebler said students should feel ‘deceived’ by Schwarzenegger, who met with student leaders last year to discuss future fee levels.

    ‘We’ve been under the impression that education was supposed to be a priority for Sacramento,’ Schiebler said.

    Schwarzenegger’s decision to not include funding for fee increases respects ‘the state’s fiscal situation,’ according to UC President Robert C. Dynes.

    ‘With the state still facing a major fiscal challenge, we are grateful for the support the governor has provided in his budget,’ Dynes stated in a press release, though he added that ‘this budget does not include everything we might wish for.’

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