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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Regents plan for $900 million budget shortfall

The UC Office of the President (UCOP) will be taking a $50 million budget cut, as a way to combat decreasing state support.

These funds – roughly 17 percent of UCOP’s budget – will be used to ease reductions on campuses next year, UC President Mark Yudof said at the regents’ meeting on March 16. This is on top of the office’s 2007-08 cuts of $55 million.

This action was part of several models outlined to combat UC’s expected $900 million shortfall for the next fiscal year. That figure includes Gov. Jerry Brown’s $500 million cut as well as mandatory expenses, such as pensions and health insurance. The regents will consider official budget plans in May.

“In all the variables you hear today, there is one constraint and a guiding star we must follow, and that is quality. Quality is non-negotiable,” Yudof told the board at the UCSF meeting.

The regents also discussed the changing relationship between UCOP and individual campuses, where campuses will be able to retain all of their generated revenues and gain previously centrally held funds.

“We should not be doing anything centrally unless we can save money or provide a common good,” Yudof said. “We’re doing many things only because historically we’ve done it. We need to make it as easy as we can for the campuses to make their cuts.”

Despite the fact that Yudof and other regents have said that they do not want to continue increasing student fees to help close the budget gap, fee hikes are still on the table.

“Before you lynch me, hear me out,” Regent Dick Blum said. “There is a way out of this problem: higher tuition and higher amounts of scholarship money.”

Blum suggested asking the nation’s top 500 companies to donate money for scholarships. While students from families earning less than $80,000 a year currently have their tuition covered, this plan could raise that ceiling to $150,000.

Since 2007-08, the university has laid off more than 4,400 people and left 3,700 positions unfilled or eliminated. Consolidation programs have saved $155 million, according to the university.

In protest of regents’ proposals to increase pension payments, roughly 20 union workers gathered outside the meeting on Wednesday.

At UC Davis, approximately 35 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and students protested on the corner of La Rue Road and Russell Boulevard, brandishing signs promoting collective bargaining.

“What’s happening in Wisconsin can happen anywhere – it’s happening here,” said a speaker with AFSCME.

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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