Governor Gray Davis’ proposed 2002-03 budget will increase the University of California’s state-funded budget for 2002-03 by $5,934,000, an unanticipated bonus for the University at a time when the state is facing a projected $12 billion budget shortfall.

Prior to the release of the budget last Thursday Davis asked all state-funded agencies to reduce their budget proposals between 3 and 15 percent. The 2002-03 proposed budget for the UC is $3,443,000, up from $3,437,000 in 2001-02.

Outreach programs, financial aid and tuition funding face cuts while staff and faculty salaries, additional funding for faculty, and staff health insurance will increase under the proposed budget. The proposal cut mainly from programs that received increased funding in the last three years.

“[The UC is] sharing in some of the budget reductions the state is seeing, but overall this is a budget that still emphasizes access, affordability and the importance of university research to the state’s economy,” UC spokesperson Brad Hayward said. “So while there are some disappointing aspects to this proposal, it is – we believe – still a proposal that does demonstrate the governor’s commitment to higher education.”

For the last eight years the state asked the UC not to increase mandatory student fees. In return, it gave the UC money – called “backfill funding” – to cover the amount it would have received by increasing fees. This kept student fees at a minimum without sacrificing the quality of education by reducing program funding, Hayward said.

The proposed budget does not provide state funding to cover the loss of revenue the UC would incur from stagnant fees. The UC is planning to discuss the matter further with the governor and Legislature in the hope of retaining the funding for the 2002-03 year.

The UC has not considered what it will do if the state denies its request for the retention of the backfill funding, Hayward said.

In his proposal, the governor also denied the UC $17 million in “bonus” finding for financial aid. In the late 1990s, fees for resident undergraduates at the UC were reduced by10 percent. However, the state did not reduce the UC’s financial aid.

“This [reduction] essentially is saying that times are tougher for the state and that money – that bonus funding – just may not be available anymore,” Hayward said.

Hayward said that the amount cut in the governor’s proposal is a relatively small portion of the financial aid available to students and he does not think the cuts will have a significant effect on students.

The governor proposed a $63.8 million funding increase to help support an enrollment growth of 7,100 full-time students. This includes support for summer sessions at UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSB and, starting this summer, UC Davis.

“We appreciate the governor’s effort to maintain support for higher education during such difficult economic times,” said UC President Richard C. Atkinson in a statement on Jan. 10. “This budget plan would maintain access to UC for all qualified students.”

The governor’s budget proposal also includes a$14 million increase in funds for UC employees’ health insurance, a 6.7-percent increase from last year. However, the UC estimates that a 10-percent increase will be necessary to cover those costs in the 2002-03 year.

The governor also proposed speeding up construction on seven projects as part of a statewide economic stimulus package.

The projects, which will cost $279 million, support construction for the engineering, general sciences and veterinary medicine programs at six UC campuses, including UCSB. The projects were supposed to be funded in 2002-2003, but the governor’s proposal would give them all the funding during the current 2001-02 year using lease revenue bonds.