Governor Jerry Brown released his proposed budget on Monday, calling for a $500 million reduction in University of California state funding for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
The new state budget could reduce taxpayer investment in the UC by 16.4 percent, potentially causing revenue from student tuition to exceed state contribution to the University for the first time in its 143-year history. Tuition would yield $2.7 billion annually, while the state would only provide $2.5 billion — $7,930 and $7,210 per student, respectively. Since 1990, per-student funding has declined by 57 percent.
UC Student Association board member and fourth-year UCLA biopsychology major Cris Santos said the new budget could have a profoundly negative impact on student services.
“[$500 million is] a ridiculous amount,” Santos said. “We can only guess what sort of consequences that’ll have. A lot of things come to mind, from fee increases to cuts in services to cuts in classes offered to cuts in entire majors.”
UC Office of the President spokesperson Leslie Sepuka said UC President Mark G. Yudof intends to maintain high educational standards while avoiding further student fee increases.
“The President said in his statement that his intent is to preserve the core education and research as much as possible and also support financial aid,” Sepuka said. “And his preference and his sense of where the board stands is to not seek a fee increase, but he can’t fully commit to that course until they look at the impact of further reductions on campus.”
UCSA University Affairs Committee Chairman Doug Wagoner, a third-year history major at UCSB where he serves as the campus’ Associated Students Vice President for Statewide Affairs, said the proposal reflects the UC’s deviation from its public model.
“I think by definition the governor’s proposed budget reflects privatization in that students for the first time in California’s history would be contributing more to higher education than would the state,” Wagoner said. “By definition, that is suggestive of a transition towards a private university.”
[media-credit name=”Justin Short ” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]In addition to UC budget cuts, Governor Brown’s proposal also includes a $500 million cutback for the California State University and a $400 million slash to the California Community College system — totaling $1.4 billion in budget cuts for the state’s higher education system.
As the budget adopts its final form, Santos said he hopes Governor Brown will uphold previous promises to support both transparency and increased student influence in government.
“The Governor does mention that he targeted the cuts and in his budget proposal he mentions that he will be working with all stakeholders of the University — including students — as we come up with ways to target the cuts and move things around so that fee increases and cuts to services will not be on the table,” Santos said. “He made promises regarding students and we’ll hold him to those promises.”