Contemplating Tuition, Motherhood, and Apple Pie

Tuition is being studied up in Oakland by the UC prez, according to yesterday’s Daily Bruin:

…“I want tuition to be as low as possible, and I want it to be as predictable as possible,” Napolitano said at a UC Board of Regents meeting in November.  

In a recent Google Hangout with students from various UC campuses, students asked Napolitano to talk about her current work in reforming the UC’s tuition policy.  They also asked Napolitano how she plans to include student ideas in the reorganization of the tuition plan. Napolitano did not specify how student input would be considered, but maintained that it was important to the eventual decision.

(UC spokesperson Debra Klein said that) “The president believes strongly that, especially at a public university, tuition must be affordable for all students and their families.”  …

Full story at

The problem is simple to state.  Within the state budget, the UC budget is the least protected.  You can’t cut debt service.  K-14 schools are insulated by Prop 98.  The prisons are under quasi-federal jurisdiction due to overcrowding.  Various social welfare programs are either somewhat constrained by federal rules or the legislature just doesn’t like to cut them.  And the legislature knows that UC (and CSU) can pull the tuition lever.  Legislators don’t have to touch the lever and can then blame the Regents.  All the budget projections you see are based on having no economic downturn into the indefinite future.  But someday there will be another.  And, as numerous observers have pointed out, the state’s tax receipts are especially vulnerable due to heavy reliance on the progressive income tax and its dependence on the ups and downs of the incomes and capital gains of the top taxpayers. 

This pie is pretty much baked.