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UC president endorses governor's ballot measure for tax increases

Photo: University of California President Mark Yudof. Credit: Dave Getzschman/Los Angeles Times

University of California President Mark G. Yudof on Wednesday strongly backed Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax increase aimed for the November ballot, warning of big tuition increases next year if it fails and offering hope that tuition would remain stable if it passes.

“In my view, it represents the best opportunity I’ve seen in my four years in California for the state to clamber out of a sinkhole of fiscal uncertainty and move forward into a better, more prosperous future,” Yudof said of the tax measure.

Speaking at a meeting of the UC regents in San Francisco, he urged the university governing board to endorse the financial plan at a future session.

Yudof said it was too early to speculate about the size or exact timing of future tuition hikes in the middle of the 2012-13 school year if the measure fails and state funding to higher education is further reduced. He said budget cuts would hurt many people: “It would be bad for the students, bad for the university, bad for the faculty, bad for families and parents.”

UC officials said they are discussing the possibility of a tuition freeze if the tax measure passes and if the legislature and governor move to provide some additional funding to cover rising costs. Asked about the likelihood of that, Yudof said: "I’m an eternal optimist. You can’t hold my job without being an optimist.”

UC's undergraduate tuition for California residents stands at $12,192 a year; room, board and campus fees can bring a student's total costs to about $31,000. And for the first time in UC's history, the total amount of money from tuition this year exceeds the total in state funding.

If it qualifies for the ballot and state voters approve it, the measure would hike the state sales tax by a quarter-cent per dollar for the next four years and create a graduated surcharge on incomes of more than $250,000 that would last seven years.

Officials said it was legal for the UC regents to take a stand on a ballot measure and that they have done so in the past.

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Photo: University of California President Mark Yudof. Credit: Dave Getzschman / For The Times

 
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