UC to Run Without Final State Budget

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Facing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's threatened veto of the California budget, UC officials said the university will continue operating without a finalized state budget for now.

Today marks the 80th day of California's budget impasse-the longest-ever in state history. Though state legislators passed a compromise plan Tuesday, the governor vowed to veto it.

The UC Board of Regents is scheduled to approve the university's 2008-09 budget today, but if the state plan is rejected by Schwarzenegger, the regents cannot pass the UC budget.

Though community colleges, hospitals and other institutions are struggling to get by without state funding, UC officials have said that due to the university's system of multiple-source funding, it can operate without the state's financial support for the time being, according to UC spokesperson Brad Hayward.

"The university can for the immediate period still get by without a budget," he said. "Though the longer (the impasse) goes on, the more problems there will be."

As of today, the lack of funds has not caused the University of California any significant interruptions to its services or programs, officials said.

However, because the state has never gone this long without a budget, the effects of the stalemate on the university are nearly impossible to predict,

Hayward said.

"(The budget crisis) is in the hands of the legislature and the governor, and we can only wait and watch what happens," Hayward said.

State funds account for roughly one-fifth of the university's overall budget, with most of the money going toward core instructional programs, he said.

According to the California Student Aid Commission, more than $800 million of financial aid has been delayed due to the budget stalemate, including nearly $280 million through the different Cal Grant programs.

In past years, both UC Merced and UC Berkeley have generally kicked off the semester before the state budget was passed, leading the two campuses to advance funds for students who had not yet received Cal Grants.

However, with the remaining campuses starting school, all 10 campuses have advanced funds to ensure students receive financial aid.

Despite the current tightening of the university budget, deeper cuts than those announced at the May regents meeting are not expected.

The budget passed by legislators this week does not cut any more funding from the UC, giving the university essentially the same funding as in the prior academic year, Hayward said.

However with inflationary costs and increased enrollment, this amount of funding still leaves the university facing a net cut of $232.4 million.

If the state budget is not approved by today, the regents will likely reconvene for an emergency session to finalize the 2008-09 UC budget when the California budget is eventually passed and signed, Hayward said.


Kelly Fitzpatrick covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]

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