Gov. Brown Increases University Funding

California’s two university systems will see increased funding in 2015–16 based on the $164.7 billion budget Gov. Jerry Brown released on Jan. 9.

The governor’s proposed plan for the upcoming fiscal year would provide an additional nearly $120 million to the University of California system’s general fund with a catch: To receive the funding, the UC system would need to find a way to freeze tuition hikes for the upcoming year.

“With savings achieved through new cost reductions and current efficiency efforts, in combination with the General Fund increases, the administration expects the universities to maintain current tuition and fee levels,” the budget reads.

The proposed budget represents an increase of 1.6 percent over the last fiscal year for the UC system and would bring the total operating budget to roughly $7.26 billion — $762 of which is “directly attributable” to the tax increases of the voter-approved 2012 Proposition 30.

In addition to the proposed increases to the UC system, Brown’s budget, which comes less than a week after the governor was sworn in for a record fourth term in Sacramento, would provide increases for California State University campuses and the California Community Colleges.

Brown’s budget proposal also called for the UC system to cap out-of-state enrollments and set up a stability committee to prevent further budget issues.

“All cost containment strategies must be explored before asking California families to pay even more for tuition,” Brown said in a statement on the governor’s official website Jan. 9.

At the UC Board of Regents meeting in November, the regents voted to authorize annual 5-percent tuition increases for the next five years unless state funding levels were increased.

UC President Janet Napolitano released a statement Friday, Jan. 9 indicating that the governor’s proposed funding to the UC system would be insufficient to stave off the hikes.

“While we are disappointed the governor did not include sufficient revenue to expand enrollment of California students and re-invest in academic quality at the university,” Napolitano said. “We are hopeful that continued discussions with the governor and the legislature will yield a budget that maintains the access, affordability and excellence for which the University of California [system] is renowned.”

The proposed budget can still be modified by the state legislature before a final vote. Brown’s budget is one of several proposed alternatives to the UC Regents’ tuition increase plan. Speaker of the California State Assembly Toni Atkins proposed an alternative funding plan last year that would raise tuition on out-of-state students only. Meanwhile, several Senate Democrats have cosponsored a bill that would eliminate the Middle Class Scholarship program to offset the need for higher tuition. No plan from the legislature has yet been finalized.

The UC Regents will meet again next month at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus where the regents’ finance committee is scheduled to discuss the governor’s proposed budget in an open session on Jan. 22.