Gov. Jerry Brown stopped budget negotiations on March 28, after Republican legislators presented him with a list of 50 demands regarding the California budget, putting funds for UC in jeopardy.
The negotiations centered on Brown’s proposed $14 billion state tax extension, which will be on the June ballot if he can gather more support. If these tax extensions do not pass, UC could face a $1 billion cut in funding, which includes the $500 million cut already signed into law by Brown. This could lead to doubling UC tuition, enrollment cuts, faculty layoffs or even the closure of a UC campus.
“The budget plan that I put forth is balanced between deep cuts and extensions of currently existing taxes and I believe it is in the best interest of California,” Brown said in a statement. “Under our constitution, however, two Republicans from the Assembly and two from the Senate must agree before this matter can be put to the people.”
The tax extensions would continue previous tax increases that were implemented in February 2009 for another five years. These include higher income tax, sales tax and vehicle license fees.
In response to the possibility of an all-cuts budget, over 250 public education administrators lobbied at the capitol in Sacramento on April 5. UC President Mark Yudof urged the state of California to provide funding for public education.
“We have a vision for the state of California, it’s a vision of a strong economy, it’s a vision of a state that’s globally competitive, it’s a state with knowledge workers and entrepreneurs … it’s a state that’s going to compete because of the smarts of its people … The way to achieve all those goals is through higher education,” Yudof said.
Yudof acknowledged the fact that the government is working hard to do what is best for the state, but said it is difficult to see results.
“The building behind me is filled with good intentions. The problem is to have those assurances, which are heartening, translate into dollars,” he said.
While the UC system has begun to contemplate plans for a future with an all-cuts budget, they have not finished looking at all possible scenarios.
“We are exploring all possible solutions in the event that our support from the state is reduced even farther because of an all-cuts budget. In that scenario, all the options will be on the table, and none of them would be pretty,” said UC spokesman Ricardo Vazquez.
The UC system is looking at many different possibilities to counteract the $1 billion deficit. However, Vazquez said that all ideas are hypothetical, depending on if the tax extensions pass, and nothing is set in stone.
“It will include all kinds of things, from enrollment to tuition to more administrative savings to debt restructuring. We are in the process of looking at those things, but I couldn’t give you any specifics,” he said.
Yudof highlighted the importance of public education and assured those present at the capitol that administrators were working hard to continue funding higher education.
“It is no doubt in my mind that we are engaged in the fight of our lives to preserve this wonderful high education system that we have here in California,” he said.
HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.