Governor's Budget Proposal Includes Restoration of UC Funding

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Correction Appended

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his proposed 2010-11 state budget Friday, which included $370 million in restored funding for the University of California.

The proposed budget eliminated $305 million in cuts made during a special state legislative session last February. A $224.5 million bump in funding for state higher education also earmarked an additional $14.1 million to the UC retirement plan as well as $51.3 million to fund the enrollments of 5,121 additional UC students, according to the proposed budget summary.

The proposed increases followed promises made by Schwarzenegger during his State of the State address Wednesday when he said he would support the restoration of funding for public higher education as a means to spur economic growth.

During the same speech, he proposed a state constitutional amendment that would ultimately shift funds from the state corrections system to higher education. Under the plan, spending on corrections would be limited to 7 percent of the state budget, while public higher education would receive at least 10 percent.

"Spending 45 percent more on prisons than universities is no way to proceed into the future," Schwarzenegger said. "If you have two states and one spends more on educating and one spends more on incarcerating, in which state's economy would you invest?"

Higher education is one of the few areas in Schwarzenegger's proposed budget which would not see any additional budget cuts for next year. While the $370 million increase falls short of the $913 million that UC requested to restore previous state cuts made to the university, UC President Mark Yudof said in a statement that the proposal is an important first step to reversing state divestment in the 10-campus system.

"We now turn to the Legislature to adopt the governor's proposals and to find every opportunity possible to fulfill the $913 million needed to restore UC's funding," Yudof said. "This money is vital if UC is to avoid declining educational quality, access and research."

But the university will still be in the red this year if state funding is not further increased in the coming months, according to UC spokesperson Steve Montiel.

He added that although it was too soon to see whether the increase in state funding could lead to a rollback of student fee increases, additional fee increases for the next year were off the table.

"Even with what the governor is proposing we are still in the hole," Montiel said. "The short answer is that there aren't any plans to revisit the issue of fees for the 2010-11 year."

The budget proposal will be revised as both the Republican and Democratic parties are expected to present alternative budgets in the coming months. A two-thirds majority of both houses of the Legislature is needed to pass the state budget.

Because the proposed budget--which includes drastic cuts to health and human services--will likely be difficult to pass in the Legislature, Montiel said that mobilizing the university community in support of increasing state funding for the university is key to securing more funds.

The university set up a Web site late last year that provides community members with their local state representative's information and pre-written letters that can be sent to their representative as well as the governor.

"We are going to continue to advocate in the Legislature," Montiel said. "Really the next step is to focus on the Legislature and the legislators."

Tags: UC PRESIDENT MARK YUDOF, HIGHER EDUCATION, STATE BUDGET, UC, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, UC BUDGET

Correction: Saturday, January 30, 2010
The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed 2010-11 state budget would allocate $54.3 to fund the enrollments of 5,121 additional UC students. In fact, the proposed budget would allocate $51.3 million to fund the enrollments.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Javier Panzar covers higher education. Contact him at [email protected]



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