State Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, called for a cap on student fee increases Friday and asked UCs and CSUs to give students notice before fee hikes would raise tuition.
If passed, Denham's Student Protection Act, SB 917, will give students 180 days between the passage of fee hikes and the time they are required to pay. Fees would also be prohibited from being raised by more than 10 percent a year.
Students go on spring break or summer vacation and they come back to fee hikes, Denham said at a press conference at UC Merced on Friday.
"We believe you have a right to have a heads-up," he said. "One semester is all we're asking for."
Ricardo Vasquez, a spokesman for the UC Office of the President (UCOP), said the UC regents share Denham's concerns over fee increases, and he commended Denham for trying to tackle the issue.
The UCOP worries that capping fee increases not linked to the university receiving state funding could threaten the UC's ability to offer quality education, Vasquez said.
"In rare occasions, because of uncertainty about the budget, we have to make those decisions without giving them notice," he added.
In response, Denham said during Friday's press conference that the UC and CSU system should make better financial decisions instead of passing off the problems to students.
In a news release, he accused the UC and CSU system of spending excessive amounts of money on administrative costs, while at the same time raising student fees.
"It is outrageous that the regents recently hiked student fees by 32 percent mid-year," Denham said in the release. "Instead, UC should be looking at how to cut waste like obscene UC administrative salaries, benefits and severance packages, and UC's Tahiti island getaway."
Denham was referring to the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station, a facility donated to the UC system from the Gump family, Vasquez said.
No money from the UC general fund goes toward the Gump research station, Vasquez added.
Denham also criticized the UC system for paying the president more than $800,000.
Vasquez said the UC president has a base salary of $532,000. It includes money that goes toward his pension fund.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.