With the state’s 2008-09 budget finally drafted and the University of California’s funding left unchanged from the year before, UC officials are facing an awkward dilemma: How do you stretch 2007 dollars to work in the 2008 economy?
Although legislators in Sacramento set aside the same $3.256 billion for the UC system they left it in 2007, with enrollment up – and inflation climbing, too – UC campuses will have to reduce expenditures by about $100 million, the UC Office of the President said. According to a UCOP press release, the 10 UC campuses will need to trim down expenses through reserve spending and budget cuts.
In an e-mail, Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said the new budget will require UCSB to make significant changes in order tackle the lack of funding.
“Right now, we are anticipating that the UCSB campus budget cut will need to be at least $8 million to provide for on-going expenses that will not be funded in 2008-09,” Lucas said. “We’re still in discussion about how such a cut would be distributed, but certainly all units on campus will be affected to some extent.”
Additionally, Assistant Chancellor of Budget and Planning Todd Lee said UCSB administrators will coordinate with UCOP officials in the coming weeks to determine what cuts will need to be made on campus.
“Campuses will have to make up for increases in cost of health insurance, utilities or other services,” Lee said.
The decision to leave UC funding unchanged comes after the longest budget hold-up in California state history. When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the state budget into law on Tuesday, state legislators had been debating state funding a full 85 days past the July 1 deadline.
The University of California vows to accept all high school students that meet eligibility standards, but without additional state funding for new students, the new state budget has put the University in a bind. Still, UC Spokesman Ricardo Vázquez said the UC will continue to provide schooling to all qualified students.
“We announced back in February that we will be continuing our historic promise to accept all eligible students,” Vázquez said. “That’s our promise to California.”
However, Lucas said the UC must continue discussing the problem of allowing over-enrollment without budgetary aid.
“Over-enrollment – more students than funding – creates a big problem in providing an adequate instructional budget across UC,” Lucas said. “So there are serious discussions going on between UC and the state about whether we will take on additional enrollment in 2009-10 unless additional state funding is provided. Right now it is hard to predict the outcome of these discussions.”
The UC Student Association has been much more blunt about the budget. UCSA President Lucero Chavez said the budget – in addition to the 7.4 percent undergraduate tuition increase approved this May – unfairly burdens many students.
“Once again, we face a year where the budget has been balanced on the back of students,” Chavez said in a statement. “Fees have become a back-door tax on students in the University of California.”