Tuition Hikes, Ahoy!

Michael Meranze:

As we all prepare for the Napolitano era, the Regents are heading to their favorite meeting place at UCSF (safe from undergraduates) with time to stop off at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There are any number of items to be discussed but first and foremost is the question of the UC budget. There the crucial meeting is Wednesday’s Finance Committee Session. Among other items, the Finance Committee is to hear about the long-range budget plan, the expected 2014-2015 budget, and the wondrous accomplishments of the “working smarter initiative.” Although we won’t know in detail what UCOP is proposing until they actually make their presentations, it is possible to see the general strategies and narratives that UCOP is proposing for budgetary planning and decision-making.
As ever, UCOP appears not to know what it wants to say; as a result it continues to alternate in what it is asking of the State and from the University community. But appearances can be deceiving.
If you turn the budget presentations into a narrative it would go something like the following:
After long years of budgetary cuts, Governor Brown has, through his handling of the state’s debt, his success in achieving passage of proposition 30, and his willingness to commit to a series of funding increases over the next several years succeeded in staunching the bleeding of budget cuts. In the new state budget UC’s general fund increases total $256M in unrestricted funds although $125M of those go for a tuition buy-out. In this way, the state is now in the words of OP: “signify the welcome, necessary return of the State to being a true partner with UC.” (3) BUT this “true partnership” is, notable for its stability more than its adequacy. Indeed, at the heart of OP’s narrative is the argument that although the State has agreed to helpful increases in funding it is also preventing the University from functioning properly by restricting its ability to raise tuition.