Audit Finds University President Janet Napolitano Has Secret Surplus, Raises Tuition Anyway

University of California President and former Obama Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, is facing criticism from the results of a state audit released on Tuesday.

According to the audit, Napolitano and her colleagues accumulated a surplus of $175 million dollars that they failed to report to the California legislature or Board of Regents.

The news of this undisclosed surplus comes three months after Napolitano announced the need for a 2.5% tuition hike across the state.

We would all love for tuition never to be raised again, (but) that would require the state to put in substantially more money. … Without a substantial input of more money from the state, tuition becomes a last resort to be used to maintain quality. If we’re going to have tuition increases, they need to be as low as possible, and they need to be predictable and they need to be accompanied by a lot of financial aid,” Napolitano said in a teleconference in January.

Despite what she characterized as “belt-tightening,” the state auditor noted that Napolitano’s colleagues made much higher salaries than their counterparts across the State.

The $175 million surplus is largely contributable to the UC Office of the President requesting far more than needed during the state’s annual budget process.

Even Gavin Newsom, the State’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor and member of the California Board of Regents, was surprised by the audit’s findings.

It’s outrageous and unjust to force tuition hikes on students while the UC hides secret funds, and I call for the tuition decision to come back before the Board of Regents for reconsideration and reversal,” Newsome released in a statement.

State Auditor Elain Howle called the secret funds “very disturbing,” and added that $32 million of the surplus came directly from student assessment fees that should’ve been applied directly to the students.

Napolitano has denied any wrongdoing, invoking standard liberal shibboleths in her defense.

The true amount is $38 million, which is roughly 10 percent of (the office’s) operating and administrative budget, a prudent and reasonable amount for unexpected expenses such as cybersecurity threat response and emerging issues like increased support for undocumented students and efforts to prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment.”

Pretending the money is really to prevent sexual violence, provide support for illegal immigrants, or respond to security threats is unlikely to put out this fire is unlikely to put out this fire anytime soon.

When you draw the ire of a liberal stalwart like Gavin Newsom, the battle may already be lost. While Californians may spend money like it’s going out of style, even they have their limits when it comes to accountability and hypocrisy among public officials.  

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Andy Crawford

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