California Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget Monday that cuts roughly $1.4 billion from higher education as part of a financial solution he warned would be “painful” and “honest.”
Higher education received $11.6 billion in 2010-2011. The proposed budget designates $9.8 million. This is to be shared between University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges.
UC will lose $500 million in the 2011-2012 fiscal year under the proposed budget, marking the first time in state history that student tuition would exceed state contributions to the UC general fund.
In a written statement, UC President Mark Yudof called Monday a sad day for California, adding that while he prefers to not increase student fees, he and the UC Board of Regents must first assess the entire impact of the budget cuts before coming to a solution. UC Regents approved an 8 percent fee increase last November, after approving a 32 percent increase the year before.
“The UC will stand up and do all possible to make this work, and there’s no doubt it would require cutting to the bone,” said Steve Montiel, a spokesman for the UC Office of the President.
Yudof said he would give each UC chancellor budget reduction targets within the next six weeks, in order to gauge the steps necessary to absorb the $500 million reduction.
UC Vice President of Budget and Capitol Resources Patrick Lenz said that while fee increases are a concern for the regents, other options must be considered.
“I certainly support the president’s contention and the regent’s concern about increasing student fees, but the other options are pretty draconian as well,” said Lenz, who will present several options to the UC Regents next week. “Should we reduce enrollment significantly? Should we go into significant layoff mode?”
However, UC officials said the magnitude of cuts are ultimately contingent on California voters, who will decide in June whether to extend $8.3 billion in tax revenue, set to expire in the 2011-12 fiscal year.
“If [the administration is] not successful in either getting it to the ballot or if they are not successful in the voters approving that, then the cut to the university could be far greater than the $500 million that was proposed by the governor,” Lenz said.
Californians voted down proposed tax extensions and state spending limits in 2009, during the Schwarzenegger administration. Even so, Gov. Brown has expressed confidence that voters will pass the measure.
Montiel said that while the state’s late budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year created further problems for the university, campuses were “already being careful about what they were committing to on a long term basis.”
“By the time the money was coming to the university, there were already projections of a structural deficit of more than $20 billion,” Montiel said.
The governor and state legislature have until June 15 to pass a final budget act before the 2011-12 fiscal year begins on July 1.
JUSTIN HO can be reached at email@example.com.