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MC_NEWSOM_01.JPGLt. Gov. Gavin Newsom railed against tuition increases and said this afternoon that the state's master plan for higher education is outdated, promising "a different narrative" for higher education by the end of the year.

It was unclear what the plan might contain or how Newsom, a Democrat, might propose funding it.

"We're going to come up with some out-of-the-box recommendations, is our hope and expectation," he told The Bee's Capitol Bureau.

Fifty years after the production of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, Newsom said he and school officials are preparing to "try to create a different narrative for higher education as a system, as opposed to UC as a system, CSU as a system and community colleges."

Newsom, who as lieutenant governor is a member of the UC regents and the CSU trustees, said he is willing to consider a unified higher education system.

The University of California suffered a $650 million state budget cut this year and faces another $100 million this winter if state revenue falls short of expectations and trigger cuts are enforced.

UC regents voted in July to raise tuition by 9.6 percent, following n 8 percent increase the previous year. Newsom was one of four regents to vote against the increase.

"You can destroy a system that Lincoln built, with the college grants, the land grants," he said. "It took hundreds of years to build a system, and you can destroy it in a few years. And what we're doing is walking down that path. And I know I sound like a cliché, like every single lieutenant governor, opposing the tuition increase, demagoguing it, putting a press release out, organizing the students for some political hay. But I believe this in my gut."

Newsom rejected the suggestion that lawmakers' hands have been tied by California's budget crisis and by funding requirements for K-12 education.

"I totally reject that, too," he said. "If you value something, you invest in it. Schwarzenegger found money. I mean he had a huge budget deficit. They finally said, you know what, this year we're not going to cut it, because last year we crushed it."

Newsom has been promoting a jobs plan in his first year in office, calling the circumstance "code red" in California. But from his largely powerless post, he seems sometimes frustrated with the Capitol.

"People can't afford us to have, and dither, the same budget debate," he said. "Because whether it's a trigger of $100 million, $50 million, $10 million, next year the wall of debt, can't get the taxes on because we've got to deal with pension thing which didn't go far enough, some will say. And then we've got the thing called paycheck perversion or perfection or whatever, and that's going to get in the way. And labor's all, and then we've got, oh, wait, you know. Meanwhile, the world has passed us by. We've lost two years."

He said there "has to be a pattern interrupt."

PHOTO CREDIT: The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo


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