With the recently approved state budget slashing even more funding from the University of California – and aid from the economic stimulus package still unknown – UCSB administrators aren’t sure how the campus will cope with the millions lost.
The California Legislature revoked another $50 million from the UC budget for the 2009-10 academic year on top of $65.5 million in mid-year cuts already enacted earlier this year. Due to the cuts, the University’s total budget damage has been elevated to a $450 million deficit – $115 million in new cuts, $122 million in under-funded enrollments over the next two years and $213 million in unfunded costs for utilities, employee health benefits and other inflationary costs.
However, if the state receives sufficient funding from the economic stimulus package, the $50 million cut could potentially be overturned this spring. As a result, the UCSB administration remains in the dark as to exactly how many millions in permanent funding will actually be wrestled away from the university.
Todd Lee, Assistant Chancellor of Budget and Planning, said the implications of the additional $50 million blow to the UC budget remain ambiguous.
“We have to look at this new cut and see exactly what it means. We need additional information,” Lee said. “There have already been $16 million this year in permanent cuts [to the UCSB budget]. We need to see what all the details are, not only the state side but on how the federal stimulus could be used.”
Lee said although the impact of the federal stimulus package is up in the air, he is optimistic the bill will benefit a number of crucial university functions.
“I think there will be a positive impact for student financial aid, an impact on research – specifically on additional research dollars – and an impact on operating budget,” Lee said. “Again, we don’t know how they work and what the details are of this stimulus bill, but the general concepts and agencies are in place to run these. You have to be hopeful.”
Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas also confirmed that the university is currently unable to calculate the extent of the budget cuts.
“The exact cuts to UC for 2009-10 will remain uncertain for the next several months as the state of the economy continues to evolve, the post-budget process unfolds and the magnitude and distribution of the stimulus package money to higher [education] in California becomes clearer,” Lucas said.
Chancellor Henry T. Yang said any aid resulting from the federal stimulus plan will help stop the bleeding induced by state budget cuts.
“We have yet to learn the specific details of how the federal stimulus package will be distributed to the state of California, and how this will affect the state’s distribution to higher education in general and UC in particular,” Yang said in an e-mail. “Any funding we receive from the federal economic recovery plan will help ease the budget cuts, which will nevertheless be deep and painful.”
Yang said although he is concerned about the financial deficit facing the UC-system, the UCSB administration is prepared to deal with the economic crunch.
“We have already begun the planning process for our campus’s current budget reductions of $16 million on a permanent basis,” Yang said, in an email. “These are difficult budgetary times for our university, our state and our nation, and there is no way to avoid hard decisions.”
Yang said the Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy – co-chaired by Senate Chair Joel Michaelsen and Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas – will cooperate with the campus to respond to the budget crisis at hand.
“I deeply appreciate the dedication, understanding, and spirit of shared sacrifice with which our campus community is responding to this crisis,” Yang said in an email. “Together we have overcome budget challenges in the past, and I am confident that we will overcome them once again. We all share the common goal of ensuring the bright future of UC Santa Barbara.”