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Monday, October 25, 2021

News in Brief: Legislation that would have provided significant funding for California universities vetoed

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed part of the Budget Act of 2014 (AB 1476) in early September,

denying the state’s public universities heavy funding. The bill would have allocated $100 million

apiece the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems.

This funding for UC and CSU universities was conditional and dependent on the

outcome of property tax revenues in comparison to projections. The $100 million was originally

incorporated into the legislation to be given to UCs and CSUs; however, the money was

rejected in July once property tax revenues did not exceed expectations. The funds would have

been allotted for deferred maintenance at UC and CSU schools that was deemed critical.

In Brown’s veto message, he wrote that property tax revenues were below budget

estimates and the state couldn’t afford the $200 million this year. The legislative session for the

California state government ended Aug. 31. Governor Brown vetoed the funds shortly after.

“Making investments to maintain the state’s aging infrastructure continues to be a major

priority for my administration, as is paying down the state’s debts and reducing other long-term

liabilities,” Brown said in the veto message. “However, we are nearly one quarter into the fiscal

year now and we should not commit additional General Fund monies of this magnitude when

we are facing unanticipated costs such as fighting the state’s extreme wildfires.”

The UC and CSU systems have repeatedly lobbied for funds greater than those

mentioned in Brown’s January budget proposal but have not been successful.

After the nullification of the funds for higher education in July, Speaker of the Assembly,

Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), added similar language to the Budget Act of 2014 to reestablish a

method for state universities to receive funding for deferred maintenance. Because General

Fund revenues exceeded projections by $400 million, the Assembly sought to restore the

funding that was desperately needed. Atkins’ efforts were also quelled by the Governor’s veto.

“Given California’s continued economic rebound, we disagree with denying this funding

simply because the money involved comes from Pot B instead of Pot A,” Atkins said in an article

that appeared in the Sacramento Bee.

Brown signed various other pieces of legislation regarding education in California the

same day he denied UC’s and CSU’s $100 million each. He signed a bill that would require high

schools to submit student grade point averages electronically to the the California Student Aid

Commission to enable greater access to the state’s Cal Grants scholarship program.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi expressed her disappointment in Governor Brown’s veto of

AB 1476.

“We were disappointed with the governor’s veto and hope to work closely with him on

next year’s budget to secure the resources needed to meet our shared goals of affordability,

access and quality.” she said.

— LAURA FITZGERALD

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