Tuition hike tentatively approved in California - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Tuition hike tentatively approved in California

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Several hundred University of California Ssan Diego students gathered on the walkway in front of Geisel Library Tuesday Nov. 18, 2014 in a sit-in to protest a proposed hike in tuition of up to five percent for the next five years. (AP) Several hundred University of California Ssan Diego students gathered on the walkway in front of Geisel Library Tuesday Nov. 18, 2014 in a sit-in to protest a proposed hike in tuition of up to five percent for the next five years. (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A committee of the University of California's governing board voted Wednesday for a tuition increase during each of the next five years over the protests of Gov. Jerry Brown, legislative leaders and students.

After running a gauntlet of protesters, the committee voted 7-2 to approve the plan recommended by UC President Janet Napolitano that would raise tuition as much as 5 percent annually.

The proposed tuition hikes still must be reviewed by the full Board of Regents on Thursday.

Before the vote, several members of the board who won't be voting until Thursday made impassioned speeches.

"The state hasn't invested appropriately in the UC system but has managed to find money for expensive projects such as high speed rail," Regent Bonnie Reiss said. "What we are saying is the experience of the last decade is the state is an inherently unreliable partner in investing in state public higher education."

Under the plan, the average annual cost of a UC education for California residents would go up $612 to $12,804 next fall and to $15,564 by fall 2019. Tuition rates at the 10 UC schools have been frozen for three years.

The dissenting votes came from Gov. Jerry Brown and Student Regent Sadia Saifuddin, who urged UC leaders and state officials to work with students.

"Six hundred dollars may not seem like a lot but that is almost an entire month's rent for some students who are barely making it by as it is, and I was one of those students," Saifuddin said.

The committee had to shout their vote over students who were chanting loudly as they tried to delay the action.

Before the vote, Brown said he wants a task force to look at ways of restructuring the system so more students can be educated in less time. The task force could look at transfer and completion routes for community college students, a ramp-up in online classes, and making each campus more distinct in academic specialties, Brown said.

Napolitano said she is open to new ideas and would like to work with Brown but there isn't time for a new task force.

Assembly speaker Toni Atkins, who serves as a regent, said she wasn't ready to approve tuition increases. Instead, she pledged to come up with an alternative plan during the next legislative session.

"I know we were all frustrated because we are trying to do good things," Atkins said. "Shame on us for being in this position today where we've got students from all over the state to come up here on buses to listen to us point fingers at each other."

Earlier in the day, student protesters tried to block members of the governing board from the meeting.

University police pushed the students back behind barricades after they surrounded the regents as they tried to enter the conference center at the University of California, Mission Bay.

The students shouted, "Go home, go home," and "UC, UC, our tuition must be free."

Other protesters formed a human chain in the parking lot to prevent regents from getting in.

Kevin Sabo, who attends UC Berkeley and chairs the UC Student Association board, said student leaders were preparing to lobby the governor and Legislature for additional funding to stave off or reduce a possible increase next year.

"We don't want to raise tuition, but we need as trustees, for the welfare of the university now and in the future, to tell the policy makers and the public what is required to keep this university great," Regent George Kieffer, a lawyer, said before the meeting.

Other voting members include an alumni representative, two regents named to the board by Brown, and three more who, like Kieffer, were appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and have backed previous tuition increases.

Napolitano, a former Arizona governor who served as President Barack Obama's first Homeland Security secretary, "is very much trying to show the regents she can stand up to the golden boy of California — Jerry Brown," Sabo said.

"It certainly is the clash of the titans, and students are being caught in between these two very larger than life individuals and trying not to get crushed between them," Sabo said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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