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UC, CSU tuition relief dependent on voters

June 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Students at California's public universities could soon be getting some financial relief. Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats have come up with a proposal to freeze tuition rates. But in order to do so, California voters must approve a tax increase in the fall.

The increase includes a quarter-cent increase in sales tax and an increase on taxes for those who make over $250,000 annually.

Brown made the decision Monday and lawmakers will vote on the budget Wednesday. The plan means that each University of California and California State University school would get about $125 million next summer to use how they see fit. The plan also means Cal States would have to rescind a $500 tuition hike that is supposed to go into effect this fall, and UCs will also have to cancel a 6 percent tuition increase.

While students may be happy about the decision, some UC and CSU board members are not. The CSU says some students have already paid the increased tuition rate and they aren't sure how giving the money back would work.

The plan is risky, considering it depends on voter approval. If voters do not approve the tax increase, each state school could lose more money at a time when the current budget expects to take a $500 million hit this year.

The governor admits it's a risk, but he hopes the tuition rates will be an incentive to raise taxes. The increase could also help fill the $16 billion budget shortfall.