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State colleges see more money in Brown's budget

  • Gov. Jerry Brown jokes with reporter during a news conference where he unveiled his 2013-14 state budget at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Brown proposed a $96.7 billion general fund budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year that wipes out years of deficits and even includes a modest surplus. ((AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli))

SAN FRANCISCO — After years of difficult budget cuts, Gov. Jerry Brown is offering more money to California's public colleges and universities. In return, he wants them to hold down costs, expand online learning and stop raising tuition, which has increased sharply in recent years.

The Democratic governor released a 2013-2014 budget plan this week that boosts funding for K-12 schools and higher education, thanks in part to voter approval in November of Proposition 30, which temporarily raises sales and income taxes.

College and university leaders welcomed the increased funding, saying the money would help reverse years of cuts. So far, no tuition hikes are on the table.

"The proposed budget heads us in the right direction," said CSU Chancellor Timothy White.

The University of California and California State University systems would each receive an additional $250 million, which includes $125 million promised for not raising tuition this academic year. California Community Colleges, which has 112 campuses, would get a $197 million boost.

Brown proposed a plan to steadily increase funding for the three systems over the next four years, but only if they freeze fees at current levels, noting that UC and CSU tuition has nearly doubled over the past five years.

The governor said he plans to attend meetings of the UC Board of Regents and CSU Board of Trustees over the next two weeks to urge university administrators to spend within their means.

"The people in the university are going to have to find a way to do the same thing with fewer growing resources than they're used to," Brown told reporters Thursday. "Can we turn down this relentless increase in spending that is so much higher than the cost of living?"

Brown wants colleges and universities to expand the number of online courses they offer to reduce costs and allow more students to get the classes they need to graduate.

His budget plan calls for UC and CSU to each spend $10 million to develop digital versions of high-demand courses — and $17 million for the community college system to develop a "virtual campus" of 250 new online courses.

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