In his proposed 2010-11 budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not include funding for any University of California capital construction projects, which would halt nearly all state-funded UC construction next year.
While the budget does not designate any general obligation bond funding for the UC, California’s legislature is working to sell approved lease revenue bonds that, in the next two months, will release funds for a limited number of UC capital projects. If passed, UCSB would be able to continue with its $23 million renewal of the Arts Building using state funds, but all other construction projects will require private funding or the release of more state funds to the UC.
According to Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas, the modest support from Gov. Schwarzenegger and the state legislature for higher education facility improvements comes as little surprise as such commitments would add to the state’s already hefty deficit.
Capital Development Director for the Office of Budget and Planning Martha Levy said the process of receiving state funding is complicated for the UC.
“The campus received state funding to complete construction documents and was ready to bid the project when the state froze all the remaining working, drawing and construction funding,” Levy said. “The freeze was due to the state’s fiscal crisis and their inability to incur more debt.”
However, Lucas said, there are discussions underway between the University and the Department of Finance and the governor’s office regarding lease revenue bond funding for a limited number of UC capital projects. Such funding would require the approval of California’s legislature, Lucas said, which will be no easy task.
“This will be difficult, as there are a number of large general obligation bonds already approved for state water projects for the 2010 fall elections,” Lucas said.
UCSB’s Arts Building Seismic Corrections and Renewal project has a budget of $23,261,000 to correct seismic, fire safety, life safety and accessibility deficiencies in the Arts Building. Modernization will also replace the building’s outdated utility systems.
However, Levy said other campus projects, such as Phelps Hall renovations, Davidson Library additions and campus infrastructure renewals are currently frozen in place until the state’s weak finances improve.
“The state continues to be unable to generate sufficient revenue to meet its projected funding needs,” Levy said.
While state-funded projects have drawn to a halt, UCSB is in the works on a number of privately-funded projects, including the new Ocean Science Education Building and a state-of-the-art bioengineering research facility set to be home to a new graduate program.
Moreover, efforts to replace the campus’ underground infrastructure are in progress, in conjunction with a host of new environmental sustainability projects.