Regents Approve Final UC Budget After Long Delay

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Following months of delays, the UC Board of Regents approved a final 2008-09 UC budget that was nearly identical to that of the previous year, despite rising inflation.

After setbacks due in part to a record 85-day impasse of the state budget, on Oct. 21 the board approved via teleconference a $3.032 billion budget for the UC system.

While the university's budget remains relatively similar to last year's, the UC system still saw a $48 million reduction in state funding. Additionally, the university must make up a $100 million funding gap caused by salary increases and other inflationary costs, said UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

In May the regents approved a 7 percent educational fee increase and 10 percent registration fee increase for all UC students to help balance the budget and make up for the disparity in funding.

The governor's line-item veto of funding for labor education and research has been the only substantial change to the budget since the last regents meeting in May, Vazquez said.

Funding to this program has consistently been threatened since the governor came to office, said Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Jacobs expressed optimism that the legislature would return funding to next year's budget.

"We recognize in a difficult budget year and in a difficult economic climate, every program in the UC and the state is facing cutbacks," Jacobs said.

The university has already saved $28 million since restructuring the UC Office of the President, Vazquez said. He added that these savings were factored into the recently approved budget.

Despite the spending cuts in the office, more reductions will be needed to sustain the university in light of the worsening global economic climate affecting the state, according to what the regents said during the teleconference.

In the recent past, the state has consistently provided less funding to the UC system, which has, in turn, relied more heavily on student fees to cover costs, Vazquez said.

"State share of expenditures have plunged 34 percent on a per-student basis," he said.

Many regents and higher education officials expressed concerns that the current economic crisis will last for more than one year.

"We got into this problem over many years, and we're going to extricate ourselves over many years," said UC President Mark Yudof.

Even after the historic budget stalemate, state legislators may revisit this year's state budget in January. Vazquez added that it is too early to predict how this will affect the university.

"The financial picture is troubling. I think it would be premature to talk about (student fee increases.) The regents have to start discussing their priorities," Vazquez said.


Anna Hiatt is the photo editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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