UC Tuition To Remain Steady Under Gov’s Budget

May 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Tuition at UCLA and other University of California campuses across the state would remain steady through the 2016-17 academic year under proposed budget revisions released last week by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The UC Board of Regents last year approved tuition hikes of 5 percent a year for the next five years, but that would be put on hold under the governor’s latest budget proposal.

According to the University of California, if the budget revisions are approved by the state Legislature, UC’s base tuition would remain at $12,192 through 2016-17, meaning six years without a tuition hike.

Beginning in 2017-18, the rate would rise “at least by the rate of inflation,” according to the UC.

Janet Napolitano, president of the UC system, said she and the governor “were both focused on the future of California as we worked toward this agreement, which will enable the University of California to continue its role as the nation’s preeminent public research university.”

“Now the University of California will turn to our state legislators for their much-needed support of the proposed budget and for funding to enroll more California students, she said.

The UC Board of Regents is expected to discuss the budget revision at its May 21 meeting at UC San Francisco.

According to the UC and the governor’s office, the budget revision will provide the university with a one-time infusion of $436 million over three years to help pay down the university’s unfunded pension liability. It also provides $50 million for deferred maintenance and energy-efficiency projects.

“Another recession is on the way – we just don’t know when,” Brown said in releasing his budget revision. “That’s why this budget locks billions into the Rainy Day Fund and pays down debt. At the same time, this budget spends more than ever on schools and creates a new tax credit to help California’s working poor.”

According to the governor’s office, the budget revision also commits another $38 million in ongoing funding for the Long Beach-based California State University system, for a total of $158 million in new funding.

CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White hailed the announcement, saying it “acknowledges the California State University’s vital mission in serving the students of California.”

“The May Revision supports existing CSU priorities by expanding student enrollments and programs that increase degree completion,” White said. “The governor’s proposal is an important step towards reinvestment in a well-educated California citizenry and knowledge-based economy.”

“The CSU will redouble its efforts by working with state elected leaders to further prioritize public higher education funding and achieve a final budget that provides appropriate educational opportunity, quality and success to the students of California,” he said.

Water Use Goes Up: Shame On Us

April 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The news that Californians have failed to reduce water consumption in line with the governor’s emergency drought order is discouraging.

In January of this year, California cities cut water use by 8%, dropping to 2.8% in February.

Those are statewide figures, in Southern California, the drop was -2.3%, in other words, consumption went up.

Especially noteworthy is the high water usage by homeowners in more affluent areas like La Canada Flintridge and Beverly Hills, with the highest per capita (per person) going to Rancho Santa Fe in Northern San Diego County, with 345 gallons per day, compared to Montebello which came in at 64 gallons per day.

Now Gov. Brown is mandating a 25-35% reduction and calling for heavier enforcement and stiff fines for water agencies that fail to get their customers to meet his target– which means these agencies will in turn fine their water customers.

Fingers are being pointed at California’s agriculture industry, which the governor is going easier on. As legitimate as the complaints may be, it does not absolve the rest of us from failing so dismally to conserve the precious commodity that is in short supply, and will likely remain that way for some time.

In the midst of a severe, record setting, multi-year drought, Southern Californians used 2.4% more water compared to the same period last year. That’s embarrassing, to say the least.

Perhaps the only solution is for stiff penalties to be levied against Californians who feel entitled to consume as much water as they desire; the rest of us be damned.

It makes us shutter to think these attitudes could lead to water war, and the victims once again those who can least afford to pay more and get by with even less.

We hope the majority of Californians will soon meet the state’s water saving goals, and that those who fail to recognize the crisis at hand will face heavy fines.

If the state continues to run out of water, it won’t matter much if you live in a rural or urban area, we will all feel the pain.

Gov. Orders More Water Restrictions

April 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Responding the lowest snowpack ever recorded, Gov. Jerry Brown imposed the first mandatory water restrictions in the state today, ordering cities, towns, universities and others across California to reduce water use by 25 percent.

Brown accompanied state officials today to the Lake Tahoe area, where water experts measured the snowpack, which is a major source of water for the state but has been severely depleted to the ongoing drought.

“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow,” Brown said. “This historic drought demands unprecedented action. Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

Brown also ordered the replacement of 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought-tolerant landscaping; the creation of a statewide rebate program for consumers who replace old appliances with more water-efficient models; mandatory reduction of water use at campuses and golf courses; and banning the use of potable water for irrigation at new homes and developments.

Local water agencies were also ordered to implement “conservation pricing,” aimed at penalizing customers who overuse water. Brown said he wants stricter enforcement efforts across the state to crack down on water-wasters, and ordered monthly reports from water suppliers about water usage, conservation and enforcement actions.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who had already called on city residents to cut their water use by 20 percent, hailed Brown’s announcement.

“I’m very pleased to see the governor’s actions, and they mirror what we have done here,” he said. “… When you see snowpack at 6 percent of what it should be, I praise this governor. I praise the state taking action as we have. They called us ahead of time and said we want to do what you’re doing with the turf program, which we’ve seen triple ever since I became mayor.”

He said the city is offering residents $3.75 per square foot of turf they remove.

BREAKING: Governor, State Officials Announce Drought-Relief Legislation

March 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

In the face of a continuing drought, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders introduced emergency drought legislation Thursday aimed at expediting $1 billion in water-related projects.

“We need to get the money out the door now for shovel-ready projects and existing water programs that only need funding to get started,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. “No delay. No red tape.”

The emergency action announced at a Sacramento news conference includes a pair of bills – one to appropriate $1 billion from a pair of voter-approved water-related bonds and another to expedite contracting and create an office to “help disproportionately impacted communities respond to their water challenges,” de Leon said.

“Taken together, this package provides a major boost to our state’s efforts to manage our water crisis and strengthen our current infrastructure,” he said.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said the continued lack of rain means the Legislature and residents have to step up to meet the challenge.

“Since our skies are still clear, our job is clear too,” she said.

“Everyone has to use less water and use it more effectively. And state leaders have to make sure we meet emergency needs, prepare for short-term problems and advance the longer-term projects that will help us get through this drought and the others to come.”

The legislative package would advance $128 million to directly assist workers and communities most impacted by the drought, according to the governor’s office. It would also direct $272 million from the Proposition 1 water bond approved in November for safe drinking water and water-recycling projects and advance $660 million from the 2006 Proposition 1e for flood protection in urban and rural areas.

This marks the second consecutive year in which the Legislature has acted on emergency drought relief. In 2014, Brown signed a $687.4 million drought package that offered aid to communities facing acute water shortages and food and housing assistance to those harmed by the drought.

The Legislature also crafted a $7.5 billion water bond that was approved by voters last November, with most of those funds earmarked for longer-term projects to bolster the state’s water infrastructure.

The latest move comes amid growing concern about the drought, now entering its fourth year.

“This is a struggle and it’s going to be something we’re gonna have to live with for, how long, we’re not sure,” Brown said. “We’re going to have to find the recycling, the storage, the efficiencies, and there’s more to do…It’s not a partisan problem. The drought is a real problem, a hydrological challenge. We’re going to (tackle) it the best way we can by pulling together.”

The State Water Board tightened its watering restrictions earlier this week, telling urban agencies to limit the number of days residents can water their yards. They also warned that they will impose tougher restrictions in coming months if local agencies don’t ramp up conservation efforts.

According to the governor’s office, the state has pledged more than $870 million to support drought relief since February 2014, including funds for emergency drinking water supplies in drought-impacted communities and for water-saving projects in local communities.


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