State senator wants to freeze California college tuition

MERCED, Calif.

State Senator Anthony Cannella says tuition should not increase for the next seven years because that's how long proposition 30 tax increases will remain in effect. Students we spoke with like the idea, but also have some concerns.

Many students at UC Merced have endured multiple tuition hikes, which are especially painful for those without financial aid.

"I had two fee increases my freshman year, one in fall and one spring," said Jaron Brandon. "It's a lot. It's 12 grand, it was free back in the 60's, and it was about three grand back in 2001. It's exponentially getting worse."

State senator Anthony Cannella wants to take the burden off students by freezing tuition for the next seven years at all UC, CSU, and community college campuses. He says money from the prop 30 tax increases approved by voters in November should cover rising costs instead.

Senator Cannella said, "This is going to generate 50 billion dollars in taxes, in year seven the state of California is going to see a nine billion dollar surplus, so we should put some of that money into higher education because I think that was the implied promise."

The republican lawmaker met with student government leaders at UC Merced Thursday afternoon to explain his proposal and get their feedback.

"That's the bill, that's the summary," said Senator Cannella. "What do you guys think? Think that's a fair approach?"

Many of the students said they like the idea but are concerned about unintended consequences.

Baltazar Cornejo said, "What's going to happen after seven years? Is there going to be a really big tuition increase or what's going to happen throughout these seven years, are the schools just going to cut programs?"

The state's independent legislative analyst expressed similar concerns recently over a proposal by Governor Jerry Brown to freeze tuition for four years. But Senator Cannella says it's only right to stop fee hikes for the life of prop 30 taxes.

"I think the negative consequences are a 20% increase in fees and kids dropping out of school," said Senator Cannella. "We're living with those consequences right now."

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