With $45 million to cut from UCSB’s budget this academic year, administrators are scrambling to slash spending across the board.
Nearly two-thirds of the deficit has been addressed through various measures, but university departments must still find $13 million to place on the chopping block. And, campus administrators caution, some of the holes that have been plugged by temporary savings will need to be made permanent by the end of the year. The cuts will hit every part of campus from the ground up. The university will need to defer maintenance and purchases, and the human toll will see services reduced as well as a smaller staff and faculty.
What’s worse, Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said, is that there lies no immediate end in sight to the university’s budget woes.
“Everybody is hurting,” Lucas said. “All vice-chancellors are reporting they have cut to the bone. We are only feeling the pain of last year’s budget cuts this year. We will feel the pain of this year’s budget cuts next year.”
Out of the $45 million UCSB has to cut this year, Lucas said, $15 million will come from salary savings created by the furlough program. $10 million more will be settled by a mixture of fund switches, over-enrollment fees, gift taxes and increases in the Non-State Funded Administrative Services fee. Another $7 million will come to UCSB from the mid-year fee increase revenue.
What’s left, Lucas said, is the approximate $13 million that UCSB’s department heads — or vice chancellors — need to strike from their budgets this year. These department heads have been given target ranges for cuts so they can identify and recommend the particulars to UCSB’s Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy, which will then move forward on a financial plan.
Overall, the $45 million that UCSB was required to subtract from its financial plan this year becomes much more of a sizeable dent in the university’s finances when one considers how the university’s total budget — $740 million this year — can be allocated. According to Todd Lee, UCSB’s Assistant Vice Chancellor of Budget and Planning, the only place to excise $45 million from UCSB’s finances is its $465 million permanent budget.
“We talk about $740 million as a budget, but that’s really with expenditures,” Lee said. “We have a permanent budget, which is money we expect year after year… generated from fees, direct cost recovery, auxiliary enterprises. That equals $465 million. The gap between $465 million and $740 comes from gifts, associative funding, current year gifts, et cetera.”
With just $465 million to cut from, Lee said, the reality of the damage to the university is much more apparent.
“$45 [million] out of $740 [million] is one percentage, but when you look but at the permanent budget it’s a much greater percentage out of the $465 [million],” Lee said.
Furthermore, Lee said, some crucial campus services are simply excluded from cuts, such as financial aid and purchased utilities, which make UCSB’s budget reduction options even slimmer.
“The reality of it at the department level is that it gets down to things like, ‘I used to have a phone in the conference room; I’m not going to have that any more,'” Lee said. “Or, things like, ‘for trips to systemwide meetings we used to send two people, now we send one.'”
The UC Office of the President’s implementation of a systemwide furlough plan and a 32 percent tuition fee increase for students has helped UCSB achieve its budget reduction targets, Lee noted.
While the elimination of $45 million from this year is taking shape, the future remains uncertain. In early January, Gov. Schwarzenegger proposed a state budget that would take effect in 2010-11 restoring $305 million of the $913 million cut from the UC last year, $51 million to cover part of UC over-enrollment and $14 million in post-employment health benefits.
According to Lucas, the governor’s proposals could assuage some budget concerns, but are unlikely to make it into the final budget. In any case, he said, the proposal shows a shift in state politics.
“It’s provided traction to our advocacy campaign to make higher ed a priority for the state,” Lucas said.