Jerry Brown scolded the University of California Board of Regents and its president Janet Napolitano saying that they need to spend existing dollars more wisely.
The governor and Napolitano are at odds over raising tuition costs for UC students. According to the Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton, UC students are caught in the middle and “are being held hostage by Napolitano and the UC Board of Regents in their demand for significantly more state money.”
The struggle involves Napolitano’s plan, approved last week by the Regents, to increase tuition by up to 5% in each of the next five years. The tuition, as a result of Napolitano’s strategy, could rise from its present amount of $12,192 annually to $15,564.
The governor is willing to boost state funding by 4% — roughly $120 million — each year for the next two if the Regents does not increase the tuition. The proposed increase would be down from the 5% increase in funding each of the last two years when tuition was held flat.
The Times reported that Napolitano insists that UC needs more funding and wants a 9% increase to cover recent pay increases, rising retirement costs, hiring extra instructors and admitting more students. Brown adamantly disagrees saying that Napolitano has to “reduce the university’s cost structure, while increasing [student] access and quality.”
Brown remembers that in 2011 when he entered office the state had a $27 billion deficit. “We had to make changes in the way we do business,” he said. He argues that now UC should do the same thing. “There’s enough money.”
Skeleton points out that Brown loves the fight. “I love the life of the mind,” he told the regents. “And I love the exchange with the university. I know it probably doesn’t give you pleasure, but this gives me great pleasure.”
Brown argues with Napolitano’s philosophy that in order to attract top notch faculty and administrators they need to pay more for them. “People will get very excited about an institution that has a moral depth that transcends the vagaries of the marketplace…. This is not Wall Street. This is the University of California, and we want to be different.”
The governor believes that teachers are remunerated in other ways than money. During his first reign as governor he observed that professors could be paid less because they earned “psychic income.”
Sounds like the kind of quote you would get from a governor whose nickname is Moonbeam.