Regents Set to Discuss Downturn's Impact on UC

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On the heels of steep financial losses, the UC Board of Regents is set to meet in San Francisco this week to discuss the university's financial state and address the effects of the financial downturn on California higher education.

The regents will convene their regular business meeting tomorrow and focus discussion on changes to the university's financial situation since the Wall Street downturn began at the time of their September meeting.

In the months following that meeting, the university's current budget has been altered due to the dire financial crisis nationwide and in California.

As the state's deficit expanded, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed an additional $65.5 million mid-year cut to UC funding, on top of a $48 million funding gap and a previously approved $33 million cut.

With the state's deficit projected to reach $11.2 billion for 2008-2009, state legislators have returned to Sacramento for a special session until the month's end to solve the budget crisis.

It is unclear whether legislators will enact further cuts to the budget, but the regents will discuss the possibility and its ramifications this week, said UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

One effect the credit crisis has had is on retirement plans nationwide, which have lost billions of dollars. The university's retirement plan, which covers full-time workers, could also be affected.

Though losses have been speculated, definitive numbers on the UC retirement plan's financial state will be presented by the university actuary at the meeting.

Another important item on the regents' agenda is approving the university's 2009-10 operational budget, which will serve as a budget request for state funding next year.

During the discussion of the budget, the issue of raising next year's student fees will be addressed, Vazquez said.

As it stands, the proposed 2009-10 budget provides for a 9.4 percent increase in systemwide student fees, including a 10 percent increase in the educational fee and a 4.2 increase in the registration fee.

The increase would amount to an additional $662 per year for resident undergraduates and $748 for resident graduate students.

Though the issue of fees will be discussed, the regents will not decide on the fee increases until next year's state budget is more fully formed.

In response to the budget situation, Lt. Gov. and UC Regent John Garamendi released a statement emphasizing the need for state support of public higher education.

"California and its future economy literally cannot afford more cuts," Garamendi said. "The cuts will knock California down ... and will put this state at risk of falling further behind."


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

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