The University of California Board of Regents will vote on Nov. 19 on whether to raise tuition fees by 5 percent per year over the next five years.
Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who sit on the UC Regents Board, said they were not consulted about the proposed tuition hike and didn't know it was coming.
UC Regents said the hike is needed for multiple reasons. Brown said he is not happy about it. He said he had a deal with the UC system to not increase fees for four years, and there are two years left in the deal.
Newsom was asked about the proposal and if there is anything he or Brown can do to stop the rate increase.
"Well, I think there's enormous opportunity to do just that," Newsom said. "I mean the governor not only controls the bully pulpit but also the purse strings. I expect the governor to lean back in and make his voice heard in a much more proactive and aggressive way, and it will have some resonance."
UC tuition has more than doubled in the past decade.
"This is really a mess. University funding and the way they get their money and the way they impose their fees on students is a mess," said former UC Regent Ward Connerly, a former chair of both the university's finance and audit committees.
Regents said they won't raise tuition fees if the state will significantly increase UC funding levels. The state is already expected to provide $119 million.
Newsom said the timing of the tuition hike proposal was strategic: the announcement was made two days after the midterm election.
"The governor didn't have a lot of opportunity to dialog with the President of the UC system even as a member of the Board of Regents. I found out about this from another reporter who had a press embargo," Newsom said. "I hope they'll reconsider this and justify a different approach than the traditional approach of stacking more debt on our students and families."