Denham bill would cap college fee hikes

Legislation that would require a 180-day waiting period and a 10% cap on fee increases at California’s public universities was introduced Friday in the state Senate, state Sen. Jeff Denham said during an appearance at California State University, Fresno.

Denham, R-Atwater, has dubbed the bill the Student Protection Act. He said increases such as the 32% hike imposed this academic year on undergraduates at CSU and University of California campuses are forcing students to work more hours or drop out of school.

“They have no hope of getting a 32% increase in pay to be able to cover the cost of going to school,” he said.

Denham said his bill, which includes a state constitutional amendment, would allow students and families to plan for fee increases.

Denham, a candidate to fill the 19th Congressional District seat being vacated by Mariposa Republican George Radanovich, also held a news conference on his bill at UC Merced on Friday afternoon.

His Fresno appearance gave Denham an opportunity to become acquainted with voters in the southern part of the 19th District, though he said that was not his motive for the visit.

“I’ve made a commitment to education in the past,” he said. “I’m not going to back down now.”Denham said he introduced a similar bill in 2004, but that bill stalled in the Senate Education Committee.

Jessica Sweeten, president of Fresno State’s Associated Students Inc., said Denham’s bill is needed because recent fee hikes have strained the budgets of students and their families.

“We’re very appreciative of him introducing this bill and being a champion of higher education,” she said.