Brown’s new California budget leaves fate of CSU and UC to November voters

California voters' stance on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, acccording to Field Poll.

The approval of California’s state budget last week has left the fate of state public universities’ funding in the hands of voters.

The state’s 2012-13 budget is contingent upon the passage of Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act,  this fall. If voters do not approve it, $6 billion in automatic cuts will be made to a variety of state agencies including higher education.

As is, the budget provides an extra $125 million each to the UC and CSU systems for the 2013-14 year if the universities agree to freeze tuition rates for the fall.

However, if Brown’s tax initiative gets voted down come November, so does that funding — and an additional $250 million will be cut from each system. That is on top of $750 million in cuts each will already take in the next fiscal year.

CSU Board of Trustees has already raised fall tuition 9.1 percent, its sixth tuition increase in four years.

Stephanie Thara, web communications specialist at the CSU Chancellor’s office, said if the tax initiative is approved, the difference between the fall 2011 tuition rate and the fall 2012 rate will be reimbursed to students at the end of the year.

However, said Thara, the governor’s fund will not quite cover the amount the CSU would have received from the tuition hike.

“The tuition would have given us $132 million and this only gives us $125 million so we’re still $7 million in the hole,” said Thara. “We’ll still have to consider some cuts.”

The CSU has no official stance on the budgetary decisions, as much is still dependent on November’s election.

“Nothing’s yet set in stone,” said Thara. “What we do know is that we need to reinvest in our education system, and this is one of the avenues to do it.”

As for the University of California system, the UC Board of Regents were previously discussing a 6-percent tuition hike, but UC spokesperson Dianne Klein told the Daily Californian that UC President Mark Yudof will not be recommending tuition increases at the next board meeting in July.

The budget also cuts $103 million from the Cal Grant program for the 2013-14 fiscal year by enacting increased academic performance standards and an overall reduction of private college scholarships.

However, on June 29, the California Student Aid Commission announced an $85 million contribution from the Educational Credit Management Corporation to ease the cut.

“These contributions from ECMC to the Cal Grant Program translate into over 42,000 California students having the financial resources necessary to pursue their dream of a higher education,” said the CSAC in a statement.

Brown’s tax initiative would increase sales tax to 7.5 percent for four years and will also increase income tax for people who make more than $250,000 a year for seven years.

A field poll, released on June 9, said 52 percent of voters agreed with the tax increases ,while 35 percent were opposed. The remaining 13 percent were undecided.