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Sliding Scale of College Fees Urged by Hayden

January 22, 1992|JERRY GILLAM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — Amid a rising chorus of complaints over steep state university fee increases, a sliding scale based on students' ability to pay was proposed on Tuesday by the chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) presented a 13-point program designed to cut costs to students and make up the difference from other sources.

"If California is further divided into a state of educational haves and have-nots, our fabric of life will be torn for years to come," Hayden said. "Gone are the days when economic life could be based on high school diplomas. We need more higher education, not less, if young people are to participate successfully in the economic future."

Counting the latest increases, fees have risen by 92% at the University of California and 85% at the California State University campuses during the last three years, while personal income has increased only 15%, according to Hayden.

UC regents last Friday voted to increase annual undergraduate student fees by 24%, or $550, raising the enrollment costs on UC campuses to $2,824 per year. CSU trustees earlier in the week increased fees by 40%, or $372, to $1,308 for full-time California undergraduates.

The CSU decision is subject to legislative approval. The UC ruling is not.

Gov. Pete Wilson has requested the fee hikes in his proposed 1992-93 $60.2-billion state budget.

Hayden outlined his plan at a hearing attended by more than 100 student protesters, mostly from nearby UC Davis, who came to the Capitol to urge legislators to oppose fee increases.

"Hell, no, we won't pay! Not tomorrow, not today," chanted the students at a peaceful noontime rally on the Capitol steps.

Hayden, who led student protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, was cheered when he urged them to fight the increases in higher education fees.

Following a UC regents meeting last week, several hundred students staged a sit-in on the Davis campus where the regents convened and approved the increases. Five students were arrested on charges that included collaborating to incite a riot, resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. They were later released.

Some of the protesters remained in the building over the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) warned Tuesday that the 40% CSU fee increase faces an uphill fight and may not be ratified by the lawmakers.

"I'm sure the Legislature will intervene," Brown told reporters at a press conference. "The state university system is going to have serious problems with a 40% increase."

To make up for fund losses that his fee reduction plan would cause, Hayden proposed a number of money-saving ideas, including adding to the teaching loads of UC and CSU instructors. As a source of new funding, he proposed asking voters to approve a $1-billion higher education bond issue.

"Taken together," said Hayden, "these strategies of cost containment and targeting of state subsidies could easily obviate the need for huge flat-fee increases. If the doors of higher education are to be kept open, these and other alternatives of efficiency must be considered."

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