The University of California Board of Regents formally approved the final version of the system’s 2008-2009 budget on Oct. 21.
Three weeks into the fiscal year may seem late – but the regents were handcuffed by the remarkably tardy passing of California’s state budget, and were unable to make precise calculations until the state budget was passed.
“There’s nothing out of the ordinary here,” said Ricardo Vázquez, spokesperson for the UC. “When the state finally signed the budget there were obviously differences between their final budget signed by the governor and the UC budget at that point.“
And while the final state budget appropriates more than $3 billion in State General Funds for core operations, the UC 2008-2009 budget’s theme is clearly reduction – now, and in the future. It reflects a $48 million cut to be implemented this year and next, and requires another $100 million in internal savings to cover increases not financed by the state.
UC President Mark Yudof said in a statement that these additional reductions may come as soon as next year, though the UC will continue to strive for economic recovery.
“It is evident that the turmoil in the international and national equity, housing and credit markets will cause continuing erosion in the state’s economy,“ Yudof said. “As such, we must view this budget as just the beginning of potential further state budget reductions this year or next year.“
The budget signed by the governor on Sept. 23 subtracted $15 million from the UC state funding.
The system had planned for this cut before being notified by the state Department of Finance that an additional $33.1 million had to be trimmed off – the UC’s portion of an overall $340 million reduction agreed to by the legislature after the budget’s completion.
Kelly Ratliff, associate vice chancellor in the Office of Resource Management and Planning at UC Davis, explained that this “placeholder“ kept the budget door from being completely shut.
“There was a placeholder in the budget for them to find additional savings,” she said. “So the one he signed wasn’t really a full budget because it had this placeholder that said ‘savings to be identified,‘ which later became the $33.1 million assigned to the state agencies.“
The Office of the President has also fallen victim to the economic hard times, and will absorb a $28 million reduction as part of the finalized budget.
The sacrifice on part of the president’s office allows more freedom in the 2008-2009 spending plan, which includes continued expansion of student mental health services, continued improvement of graduate student financial support and provisions that reduce or eliminate student fee increases for students meeting federal need standards.
Several items noted as high priorities for the regents were deferred to prevent significantly higher cuts to existing programs. General salary increases for faculty and staff and funding to continue improving student-faculty ratios are among the postponed goals.
MIKE DORSEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.