Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently allotted $3 billion to the University of California in his 2010-11 state budget.
Signed into effect last Friday, the governor’s budget represents an increase of $370.4 million in state funding for the UC over last year. However, $305 million of that amount is really only a reinstatement of money cut from last year’s University budget.
The financial plan allocated $51.3 million to make up for the 5,121 UC students not fiscally supported by the state. Additionally, $14.1 million was set aside for retiree health care benefits and $353 million for capital facility project needs — including construction on a new wing of UCSB’s Davidson Library. Furthermore, a good deal of the governor’s budget was set aside to fund state academic programs, financial aid such as Cal Grants and research ventures.
Ricardo Vazquez, UC Office of the President ethnic media specialist, said increased funding will yield additional classes for students, new staff members and additional student services.
“One of the things that the increased funding will be used for will be to hire new faculty and to mount additional courses and sections and to improve student services,” Vazquez said. “These are all things that, at the campus level, will have an impact for students.”
While nothing is definite, Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said the extra state funds may deter further cuts to campus budget this year — but he won’t count on it.
“The specific impact of the budget on UCSB won’t be known for a bit until UCOP works the numbers,” Lucas said in an e-mail. “But it is likely we will not have to take budget cuts this year. Two cautions, however: This budget does not fully address the structural budget deficit in California and is based on optimistic revenue projections. Hence, we should save as much as we can this year to prepare for another set of budget problems in the next round.”
According to Russell Blount, a second-year undeclared major, Schwarzenegger’s revisions come at a time when the UC’s dire financial position is evident, even at UCSB.
“As a poor college student, we need all the help we can get,” Blount said. “I’ve definitely had to crash every Spanish class I’ve taken. I feel bad when I get a class and some other dude needs it too. It’s just a fuckin’ chain.”
Although the recent budget was a boon to UC finances, Patrick Lenz, UC vice president of budget and capital resources, said in a press release that the UC system is still experiencing a budget deficit as state support for the University is still 10 percent lower than 2007-08 levels.
Ultimately, Vazquez said, higher education plays a vital role in the scheme of California’s economic recovery.
“We have had a really strong advocacy effort this year trying to make our case to the state that higher education needs to be a higher priority and how important it is to the fiscal vitality and economic vitality of the state,” Vazquez said.