SAN FRANCISCO -- Gov. Jerry Brown handed the University of California and its new president, Janet Napolitano, what he called "a reality sandwich" on Thursday, saying it's unlikely state politicians will give the system the extra funding it wants for next year.

UC expects $142 million from the state for 2014-15 -- a 5 percent increase over this year -- but is asking for $121 million more, including money for pensions and enrollment expansion.

Brown says don't count on it.

"I don't have a Nobel Prize, but I know the political climate in California probably better than anybody else," Brown said. " ... the 5 percent we're going to give you is pretty much all you're going to get."

This could prove to be one of the first big tests for Napolitano, who was chosen for the job, in part, for her political savvy and household-name status.

Sitting next to Brown, she made it clear that UC wouldn't take "reality sandwich" for an answer.

"There's no state in the country that has anything remotely like the University of California ... so we're going to have to fight for it," she said.

The regents passed their budget -- with UC's full request.

The governor releases his budget proposal in January and a revised one in May leading up to the Legislature's consideration over the summer.

UC officials said that even if the additional money didn't come through, they would be able to balance next year's budget without raising undergraduate tuition -- mostly through one-time shifts.


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UC Regent Sherry Lansing said she was "not ready to give up" and that she believed in the system's "power of advocacy."

Those advocates will likely start with a fairness argument: The state supports the California State University and the community college pension funds, but not UC's.

Napolitano and some of the regents have vowed to freeze tuition for 2014-15 while the system decides how to keep costs more predictable.

"There is nobody on this board that wants a tuition increase," Lansing said. "I would strongly, strongly urge us to take a tuition increase off the table.

Follow Katy Murphy at Twitter.com/katymurphy.