Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown announced the proposed state budget for the 2013-2014 year, which, if passed in June, will bring the state out of deficit for the first time in five years, according to Brown.
The $97.7 billion budget promises $256.5 million in funding to the UC system— a five percent increase from last year — made possible by the $5.6 billion in new tax revenue raised from the passage of Proposition 30. California legislators will deliberate on the recommendation and then pass the finalized budget in June.
UC Office of the President spokesperson Steve Montiel said because the budget will continue to be revised by California legislators and the governor, the precise numbers will not be in until after a revision in May.
“It’s too early to say much, because this is just the first step in the budget process. The next step in the budget proposal is that the legislature considers the proposed budget. There is the ‘May Revise,’ where in May, the revised budget proposal will reflect the discussion between legislators and the governor,” Montiel said. “Assuming that the governor’s proposal holds up, it’s generally good news that after having $750 million cut from this year’s budget some of it is being partially restored. If this budget happens we’ll get some of the stability we’re looking for. We didn’t get everything we asked for but we’re grateful that the governor is upholding higher education.”
UC Student Association President and UC San Diego fourth-year student Raquel Morales said despite the governor’s promise of more funding for the UC, the possibility of another eventual tuition hike is distressing.
“The governor has proposed an increase to funding that is less than half of what the UC requested,” Morales said in a press release. “But without stronger measures of accountability, students are deeply concerned that the gap in revenue will again be shouldered by students and their families in increased tuition.”
At this time, the UCOP has not reported that there will be a tuition increase this year. Since the budget is not yet finalized, the UC cannot predict whether their funds will remain at Brown’s proposed level, Montiel said.
“As far as tuition goes, we share the governor’s interest in stabilizing tuition. At this time there are no plans to increase it this year,” Montiel said “A year ago, Governor Brown proposed cutting $500 million, but we had $750 million cut. So the governor’s proposed budget can either go down or go up at this point.”
Das Williams, State Assemblymember representing California’s 37th district, said he believes the UC should avoid raising fees as higher education is being given a greater portion of state funds than in previous years.
“This is a dramatic turnaround. After two years ago when we had a statewide budget deficit, now we’re headed towards a balanced budget. We’re prioritizing education and higher education. There was a double-digit funding increase to the UC, so there should be no excuses to raise fees,” Williams said. “And there was a double-digit [increase] to CSUs and community colleges, so students can work towards transferring and getting classes — if administrators make sure that access to classes are provided. It won’t mean plenty of money, but there are no excuses to raise fees.”
According to Montiel, the UC has not yet received its requested funding for emerging projects but has been allocated upwards of half its original request from Governor Brown for the 2013-2014 year.
“We had asked for more; we hoped to get how much we needed to ensure the continued quality of the UC — not that it is necessary that we get everything we requested — but we’re grateful for what we received,” Montiel said. “We requested an increase of $417 million dollars in operating funds; [Brown] is proposing $150 million less than we requested. We requested a six percent adjustment in base funds; he recommended five percent. We also requested $15 million for the UC Riverside Medical School; at this time, it is not proposed in the budget.”
While the UC made appeals for their funds directly to the state, Williams said student involvement in ensuring the passing of Prop 30 played a crucial role in securing more money for education across the state.
“There are always possibilities of national and global sources that could hurt our economy, which would result in less revenue. The campuses and the state really rallied around Prop 30 and made this happen,” Williams said. “The people of California made sacrifices and understood that taxes were needed to fund education. The people showed real unity and unity in purpose.”
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of January 11th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.