Mac Taylor, the state legislative analyst, is proposing an additional increase in tuition at state university and University of California campuses.

The noise you heard was the screams of outrage from state university students.

Taylor raised the subject while reporting that the state faces a budget shortfall of $28 billion over the next 20 months.

Now comes news that Sonoma State University students are upset about a new rule that limits them to 16 units per semester. See Randi Rossmann’s story here.

While limiting class loads will make it more difficult for some students to graduate in four years, the grim reality is that an operating deficit of this magnitude is sure to lead to more draconian impacts on classes, faculties and enrollments – unless, of course, students are asked to pay more.

For university systems that once offered a world-class education for free, no one likes higher tuition. But it’s also true that (1) California students pay less in tuition that students at public universities in other states, and (2) many students could afford to pay more.

Annual costs at private universities, after all, often exceed $50,000, which makes state universities a bargain. If tuition was means-tested, the higher fees paid by affluent students could stave off the most painful budget cuts and support tuition for low-income students.

Are these arguments likely to persuade students? Not a chance. One way or another, there will be loud protests all around.

But, then, all kinds of people are going to be hurt in this budget crisis. For state government, the choice is between managing this crisis, or waiting until it runs out of money and the checks start bouncing.