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San Diego’s Colleges, Universities Brace For Deep Budget Cuts

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Aired 2/2/11

In his State of the State address, Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged the importance of higher education, but his proposed budget calls for 20 percent cuts to California’s colleges and universities.

— Last October, hundreds of San Diego State University students greeted Jerry Brown with thunderous applause. The gubernatorial candidate told students he would protect their educational opportunities. “We should invest more, not less,” he told the enthusiastic crowd. He recalled that he paid $125 per semester for his college education.

Members of the California State legislature applaud as California Governor Jerry Brown (C) arrives to deliver the State of the State address at the California State Capitol on January 31, 2011 in Sacramento, California.
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Above: Members of the California State legislature applaud as California Governor Jerry Brown (C) arrives to deliver the State of the State address at the California State Capitol on January 31, 2011 in Sacramento, California.

Three months later, faced with a $25.4 billion deficit, Brown's proposed budget has financially-battered colleges and universities bracing for a combined $1.4 billion in cuts. The University of California and California State University would each lose $500 million.

Patrick Lenz, vice president for Budget and Capital Resources at the University of California, said he’s hopeful tuition hikes can be avoided.

“We’re looking at other options so that we can do our best to meet the intent, of not only the governor, but of the Regents' desire to be able to manage this $500 million cut, but not impact either access to students in the university or affordability by increasing student fees,” explained Lenz.

UCSD Associated Student president Wafa Ben Hassine said the cuts would have a devastating impact, and that it’s key for students to let their voices be heard.

"Besides just protests and expressing our grave discontent of the situation, the Associated Students is planning a lot of outreach initiatives, educating students on what’s going on and also reaching out to legislators," she said. "We have students going to these budget education subcommittee hearings in Sacramento to advocate for higher education.

Gov. Brown's plan to fix the budget shortfall hinges on voters approval of an extension of tax hikes. For Brown's plan to work, two-thirds of lawmakers would have to agree, by March, to put the tax measure on the ballot.

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