Thursday, November 20, 2014

Positions Taken

As noted in the prior post, the really exciting stuff happened at the Nov. 19 session of the Regents during the budget discussion.  Yours truly - who is traveling - will eventually get to the recording of that session.  The Regents - or at least a subcommittee of the Regents - voted for the tuition plan.  The governor and the student regent opposed the tuition increase, although the latter was not so nice to the former for his refusal to raise state contributions to UC.  We noted yesterday that assembly speaker and ex officio regent Atkins presented a plan - really a laundry list - as an alternative to the tuition hike.

Both sides have now made their positions official.  (Or it may be three sides with Atkins.)  The full Board of Regents will consider the plan today.  Undoubtedly, there will be more discussion.  But public forums are not good places to have negotiations.  There are too many Regents.  The political types don't want to be seen as folding. 

We have noted that despite the positions taken, there is room for compromise.  For example, as noted in prior posts, although UC prez Napolitano has a multi-year plan, the budget is only for one year.  Duration is thus a variable.  What is needed is a true compact between the state and UC and that needs to be worked out in private.  A third party mediator might be a possibility.  Some independent commission might be set up to consider the various issues raised.  Even if the Regents adopt a budget, it doesn't take effect until next fiscal year (July 1).  So there is time for adjustment.  We also repeat our observation that in a negotiation, the positions take are not necessarily final or even where the parties would like to end up.

Here is a sampling of news reports:

...In a sharp exchange with Brown, regents invoked the higher education legacy of Brown’s father, the late Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, and accused the younger Brown of failing to deliver on the promise of Proposition 30, the tax measure he championed in 2012.  Regent Sherry Lansing said that when regents, faculty members and students rallied around Proposition 30, “it was with the complete understanding that a huge percentage of this money for Prop. 30 would go to fully fund the university so that we could continue with our enrollment growth. “Sadly, that has not happened,” Lansing said...

Full story at

...The regents held their debate and vote about the tuition hike at UC San Francisco, where about 100 people protested the proposed hike. The scene became chaotic at some points, with shoving matches between police and demonstrators.  One Berkeley student was arrested on suspicion of inciting a riot after protesters forced their way through metal barricades and police security lines. A large glass door shattered. Former UC Chancellor Karl Pister, 89, said he was knocked down. In all his years at UC, he said, "Today is the first time I was knocked down."

Full story at

...“I’m worried that we’ll do to the University of California what we did to the K-12 system,” said Regent George Kieffer.  That fear lies at the heart of the tuition debate for UC President Janet Napolitano, whose staff walked the regents through a presentation showing that UC has cut millions of dollars from its operations in recent years, while state support has fallen and admissions applications have soared. The regents were also told that if the state helped UC pay for its ballooning retiree health costs — as it does for other state agencies, including California State University — no tuition hike would be needed...

...(Student Regent) Saifuddin said that as a student whose family earned just above the cutoff for financial aid, she had to work four jobs and still couldn’t pay for school.  “My grades plummeted,” she said. “I suffered from depression.” She became interested in the student regent position in part because tuition is covered.  Yet Saifuddin — like many of the students who had earlier addressed the regents — also directed angry comments at Brown because he has expected UC to keep tuition flat in exchange for small funding increases of 4 and 5 percent, most of which UC said is absorbed by inflation and don’t help enough. “As leader of the state, the ball is in your court,” she told the governor, to applause from the audience. “It’s easy to point fingers and say the other person isn’t doing his job. We need to create a plan that restores state support” to UC...

Full story at


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