By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The University of California on Thursday proposed to hike tuition up to 5 percent annually over the next five years at its 10 campuses unless the state kicks in additional funding, part of what it called a "fee stability plan."
The tuition raises would end what Janet Napolitano, the UC's president, called a "boom and bust funding model" and allow the college system to enroll 5,000 more California students every year, add faculty and courses and boost graduation rates.
But the plan, which goes before the Board of Regents later this month, seemed aimed at least partly in goading Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators into boosting funding for the jewel of California's higher education system.
"Thanks in part to actions taken by state leaders, our economy is back on track. It's now time for the state to reverse cuts in investment to educate Californians," Napolitano, former Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, wrote in a joint Sacramento Bee editorial with Bruce Varner, chairman of the Board of Regents.
"We intend to make this case in Sacramento and throughout the state, and we urge Californians to do the same," Napolitano and Varner wrote.
Brown in 2012 campaigned for a voter-approved ballot measure that increased income taxes on the state's highest earners and temporarily hiked sales taxes to help fund California's public schools, colleges and universities.
That initiative, Proposition 30, was sold to voters as an alternative to raising tuition.
A spokesman for Brown did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"The governor remains opposed to a tuition hike on students. Increased funding for UC in the governor's budget is in fact contingent on tuition remaining flat," H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance, told the Los Angeles Times on behalf of the Brown administration.
Under the UC's proposal, tuition fees would go up by as much as 5 percent per year for the next five years as long as the state provided a promised 4 percent increase in funding. The tuition hikes would be lower if the state added to that amount.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Bernard Orr)