Friday, September 16, 2011

No Agreement on Multiyear Tuition Hike...

... but that obviously doesn't mean it's not going to happen anyway. The regents didn't want to be forced to discuss, or even voice support for, the proposal to lock the UC into raising fees by 81 percent over the next four years. But it's not because all of a sudden they had a change of heart.

It's because they're terrified. Of us.

The Chronicle today does a great job of revealing what the UC regents really think about public education -- that it should die:
Yudof and his finance team had hoped the regents would discuss their multiyear budget and tuition proposal, then vote in November.

But even though the regents liked the idea of imposing some stability on their wildly fluctuating budget, they stayed away from the hot-button issue of yearly tuition increases.

"It scares the bejesus out of folks," was how Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a regent, summed it up.

The four-year budget plan was intended to tackle a looming gap of $1.5 billion over the next four years, about a third of which UC says is needed for higher pay, and a quarter for retiree health and pension benefits. This year's tuition increase and cutbacks have resolved an additional $1 billion shortfall, officials said.

The idea was that a steady flow of tuition hikes would help pay these costs. Tuition would rise more in years when the state gave less, and vice versa. In the worst-case scenario - if the state provided no increase - basic tuition would rise by 16 percent a year, reaching $22,200 by fall 2015, not including mandatory campus fees, room and board. That's 81 percent higher than the current $12,192.


Negotiating with Sacramento is "a waste of our time," said Regent Dick Blum.

Instead, the regents should approach people "who actually can write a check," he said. "Chevron, Apple, Cisco and Google - all these companies sitting on money they don't know what to do with."

Regent David Crane picked up on the theme, urging colleagues to "start acting like you're a private university. Get real - and don't fool yourselves and think the Legislature will turn around, or you'll be waiting for Godot," he said, referring to the Samuel Beckett play in which the protagonists wait in vain.

Some regents said corporate money could be used for scholarships. Others said an ad campaign for UC would be better.

Chairwoman Sherry Lansing suggested they form subcommittees to tackle each approach. The bottom line, she said, is, "I don't want to bring this (proposal) forward in November."


The regents, who have been approving tuition hikes for years, sometimes twice in the same year, actually appear quite comfortable with multiyear fee increases. Since 2006, when tuition was $6,141, the regents have raised it each year by 8, 7, 26, 15 and 18 percent.

Meanwhile, the regents gave raises and incentive pay to some of UC's highest-paid executives, including Chief Investment Officer Marie Berggren, who got a $744,950 award for boosting UC's assets by $661 million beyond what was expected.

Senior Vice President John Stobo, in charge of UC's health system, received a $130,500 award for, among other things, reducing blood infections.

When Stobo's raise was announced and he was praised for his achievements, a health care worker - a member of a union that has been without a contract for months - jumped up from the audience and yelled, "It's sad that you give yourself all these raises. The decrease in infections is because of our work, but you guys get credit for it. Shame on you!"

Guards led her away.

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