By Bay City News Service
The passage Tuesday of a state measure to increase taxes to fund education drew swift reactions Wednesday, with the California State University system saying it will cancel fee hikes and University of California at Berkeley students demanding immediate tuition rollbacks.
Voters statewide approved Proposition 30, which will increase the state sales taxes by .25 percent and income taxes on people making $250,000 or more a year for the next seven years.
The taxes will raise an estimated $6 billion annually for K-12 schools and public community and four-year colleges, and avoid what public educators feared would be another round of drastic cutbacks and college tuition hikes next year.
The proposition will mean relief from budget reductions for state's 9,895 public schools that enroll 6.2 million students, according to the California Department of Education.
California's 23-college state university system announced Wednesday it will begin the process of canceling the current $249 rise in tuition per semester in anticipation of future tax money from Proposition 30, which passed with almost 54 percent of state voters favoring it.
The system's board of trustees already approved a plan to rescind the semester fee hike that started with the fall semester this year, and now annual, full-time tuition will go back to $5,472 charged during the 2011-2012 school year, officials said.
Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for the Cal State system, said the system will withdraw its 2012-13 tuition increase because unlike the 10-college University of California system, it opted to raise tuition in November 2011 to $5,970 a year to make up for a $1 billion cut in its budget.
But Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature in July offered both college systems $125 million in funding if they did not hike tuition, but Cal State already had done so, Uhlenkamp said.
Meanwhile, the University of California Board of Regents, which did not increase tuition last year, will be waiting to see how state officials proceed in light of Proposition 30, said Shelly Meron, a spokeswoman for the system.
"It's up to the state to decide when how funds generated by Prop. 30 will be dispensed," Meron said. "Undergraduate tuition and fees at UC have remained flat this year, and future tuition levels are dependant on state support."
That might not sit well with some Berkeley students, who said Wednesday that they plan to hold a class walkout, rally and overnight "sleepout" on Thursday to demand that the regents immediately roll back tuition fees and university cutbacks.
The protest, led by the Students of a Democratic University, will take place at Sproul Plaza starting with a rally at noon to 2 p.m., assembly from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and a dinner and preparation for the sleepover from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., according to group spokeswoman Maggie Hardy, an undergraduate at Berkeley.