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Proposed Cuts to Cost UC Millions



UCSB will have to slash around $40 million from its budget in the upcoming academic year.

If the state legislature passes Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget this summer, the UC will be dealt a $500 million blow in state funding for the 2011-12 fiscal year. The effect will inevitably trickle down to individual campuses, requiring that UCSB’s permanent budget of $435 million be cut approximately $40 million.

Although campus officials are unsure how to tackle additional cuts, Academic Senate Chair Henning Bohn said the university’s principles will collapse unless its quality of education is preserved

“This is a time where we all — students, faculty, administrators — really need to speak up to the people in Sacramento, to the public and to the state that it’s valuable to have a first-rate university,” Bohn said.

The state did not cut higher education spending in 2010-11 — Arnold Schwarzenegger actually increased funding to the university by $370.4 million — but the state did cut the UC by $305 million in 2009-10, $52 million of which was dealt to UCSB to reduce. Moreover, $305 million of the money allotted to the UC by California in 2010-11 was just restored state funding from last year.

Todd Lee, UCSB’s assistant chancellor for Office of Budget and Planning, said the school’s financial predicament is so dire that many individual departments have little else to cut.

“We’re past the point where we can hand out percentage targets to various areas,” Lee said. “We’re down to the bare bones in many departments.”

Coping with the Budget

The UC has dealt with unfunded expenses every year. Even when there are not cuts in funding for the academic year, Lee said UCSB and most UC campuses still spend more than their budgets allow.

The rising cost of medical benefits has increased by double digits in the last five to eight years. Additional expenses include employee pension, salary hikes for represented employees and faculty, a rise in utility rates, deferred maintenance, technology investments and graduate student support.

Lee projected that the UCSB will consume almost $700 million this year, almost $265 million more than its permanent budget.

Less said it is almost impossible to reduce that figure because some services cannot be cut. The university must allot $64 million for financial aid and is unable to cut the salaries of ladder-rank faculty with tenure or reduce the cost of perched utilities.

“About 75 percent of core expenses are salary and benefits,” he said. “When you take that number and student financial aid — which were protected — it doesn’t leave nearly the amount required for the core cut areas.”

Furthermore, buildings around campus are also in dire need of upkeep. In addition to stalled road repair and construction equipment replacement, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor Marc Fisher, Administrative Services & Campus architect, said Robertson Gym needs a new roof.

“This is a huge problem for many campuses,” Fisher said in an e-mail. “Our campus [deferred maintenance] is over $400 million. We have not had [deferred maintenance] money since 2002 and much of our building stock is 50 years old.”

How has it affected faculty and staff?

Even though UCSB has eliminated staff positions over the years, Lee said the school wants to limit layoffs to the least possible.

No faculty positions have been dissolved, Academic Personnel Director Cindy Doherty said, but hiring has been deferred. Only 10 new faculty members were hired this year, compared to 30 new employees in 2009-10 and 37 in 2008-09.

According to Tricia Hiemstra, Human Resources Benefits & Compensation manager, the university employed 179 less staff members last year than it did in 2008-09.

“There’s been a lot of reorganization going on in the campus in the last year,” she said. “We have employees who have retired, leaving it up to the departments to decide whether to rehire or reorganize.”

Hiemstra said the university is now abolishing measures that were implemented last year to counteract budget cuts. Now no longer offering slightly enhanced severance pay for early retirement, the university also eradicated the furlough system. The policy required UC employees to take seven to 26 days off — depending on the employee’s full-time salary — without pay. That led to a salary reduction of four to 10 percent.

The policy was disbanded last year in August, but a handful of employees who started their contracts at different times are still on the furlough system. Salary savings generated $15 million for the campus last year.

Additionally, UCSB’s temporary layoff policy for its clerical unit ended a few days ago on Jan. 30. Select campus employees were obliged to take 11 to 16 days off without pay, resulting in a four to six percent salary cutback. Furthermore, a mandatory four percent reduction in time for service unit employees will conclude by the end of the month.

How has it affected students?

Students have born a substantial brunt of the budget deficit.

In November, the UC Board of Regents implemented an eight percent student fee hike — equivalent to an $822 annual fee increase — that boosted average in-state tuition to $12,150 per year. If the governor’s budget is passed midyear, revenue from student fees will exceed state contribution to the university for the first time in its history.

The spike in student fees will generate almost $180 million system-wide. However, 33 percent is allotted for financial aid during every round of fee hikes. After that $63 million in return-to-aid is accounted for, almost $117 million in revenue from augmented fees will be left in the UC budget to distribute among campuses.

UCSB will receive nine to 10 percent of that end sum, Lee said.

Eye to the future: Where do we go from here?

Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said campus officials are unsure how the university will cope with next year’s potential budget reduction.

“Since we are still figuring all this out, it is too soon to say what specific actions will be taken at UC Santa Barbara,” Lucas said in an e-mail. “We also need to be thinking of what might happen if the tax extensions are not approved. That could make the cuts even greater.”

The university has established working groups in Information Technology & Communications, Human Resources, Shop Services, Conferences & Events, and Finance and Procurement to streamline functions as well as optimize space and equipment within various departments.

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One Response to Proposed Cuts to Cost UC Millions

  1. Inspiro Assistant Reply

    March 18, 2011 at 7:20 am

    It’s sad to know that this is happening. I believe that education is more important compared to other government proposed project. I hope the government will think twice.

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