Brown's proposed budget cuts $1.4 billion from higher education
By Donna Hemmila
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a balanced, deficit-closing 2011-12 state budget today (Jan. 10) that relies on painful cuts in state services including a $500 million reduction in support for the University of California.
The 16.4 percent drop in state general fund support for UC would result in a historic shift in how California's public research university is funded: For the first time in UC's 143-year history, student tuition revenue will surpass what the state contributes to the university's core operating budget.
"The crossing of this threshold transcends mere symbolism and should be profoundly disturbing to all Californians," said UC President Mark G. Yudof, calling it a sad day for California (read Yudof's open letter to California).
Funds would drop to 1998 levels
Brown's proposed state general fund budget will return UC to 1998 funding levels when the system enrolled only 161,400 students, 73,600 fewer than today's enrollment of 235,000 students.
The governor proposed a $2.5 billion general fund contribution to UC while the university estimates student tuition will contribute $2.7 billion in revenue. UC's core operating budget funds instructional costs, including faculty and staff salaries and benefits, energy expenses, campus building and lab maintenance, and financial aid.
"Undeniably, the governor's hand has been forced," Yudof said. "He has produced, as he calls it, a tough budget for tough times, and the university will stand up and do all it can to help the state through what is a fiscal, structural and political crisis. There can be no business as usual."
The $500 million cut to UC represents a "best case scenario," said Patrick Lenz, UC's vice president of budget and capital resources, and is dependent on successful passage of Brown's tax extension package.
Higher education to be cut $1.4 billion
The governor's budget also includes a $500 million cut to the California State University and a $400 million cut to the California Community College system, resulting in a more than $1.4 billion reduction in state support for California's three public higher education systems. The budget would also raise community college fees $10, from $26 per credit unit to $36. Brown said he would keep public safety and K-12 funding stable.
"Given the vast demographic shifts underway in California, now is not the time to shrink public higher education, but to grow it," said a joint statement from the leaders of the three higher education systems. "The road to recovery from this recession and prosperity far beyond it runs straight through our many campuses. These universities are the economic engines of California."