Welty warns of tuition hike if Prop. 30 fails

The Fresno BeeSeptember 20, 2012 

Fresno State President John Welty said Wednesday that a contingency plan to raise tuition 5% should send a clear message to voters about the dangers of rejecting Proposition 30 on the November ballot.

The California State University Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition by $150 per semester beginning in January if the governor’s tax initiative fails. The increase would put annual tuition at $6,270 for full-time undergraduates.

Trustees adopted the contingency plan Wednesday after considering two options — hike tuition or make deep cuts to enrollment and employee pay — to deal with a $250 million cut if Prop. 30 fails. Fresno State would lose $13.1 million.

Trustees were faced with two unappealing choices and made the right decision, Welty said.

“This plan does ask the students to pay more, but it does ask the employees to sacrifice as well,” he said. “I think it’s more a reasonable and balanced option.”

Welty said faculty and staff would be asked to pay more for health benefits. Such concessions, however, require agreement from union leaders.

The tuition hike would raise about $6.8 million per year in additional revenue each year for Fresno State. Welty said the university would make additional cuts to some programs and courses, and between 500 and 900 qualified students would be turned away with enrollment reductions. Layoffs are a possibility, but they would be minimal.

Fresno State student body vice president Sean Kiernan said the trustees’ plan is fair because it asks everyone to share the burden.

“It’d be cool if our tuition didn’t go up, but you have to do something when you cut a quarter-billion dollars,” he said. “The only fair way is for everyone to suffer equally for this.” Kiernan, a junior political science major, said many students don’t know all the ramifications of Prop. 30, but the proposed tuition hike should grab their attention.

“When we’re talking about political issues, you can’t get one that affects students more than this one,” he said. “It’s an easy sell: ‘Hey, do care about your tuition going up? Then get out and vote.' "

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, hsomerville@fresnobee.com or @heathersomervil on Twitter.

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