Regents approve Gov. Davis' mid-year cuts

The UC Board of Regents addressed the state’s current financial crisis on Dec. 16, 2002, when they approved an additional $74 million in cuts made to the university’s 2002-03 budget.

More than $240 million in UC funding have been made since the 2001-02 fiscal year due to the state’s recent economic downturn. The latest cuts were approved at an emergency meeting of the board, where Regents were linked via telephone conference call from all over the state to respond to mid-year cuts to the current year’s state budget by Gov. Gray Davis.

A $74 million reduction to the University of California was included in Davis’ most recent cuts, which will be assessed in the current year. The university expects to absorb even more funding cuts when Davis releases his 2003-04 budget proposal on Jan. 10.

“”These budget cuts will be painful because we have already absorbed major cuts and the university’s funding is now significantly below the minimum called for in our Partnership Agreement with the governor’s office,”” said UC President Richard C. Atkinson said in a Dec. 6, 2002 statement. “”But we also know that the university must play a role in the state’s budget solutions.””

UC research programs will see a one-time reduction of $18 million, in addition to the $32 million already cut in September 2002 when the current year’s budget was passed. Programs targeted for reduction include U.S.-Mexico, labor and substance abuse research projects. UC research has decreased in funding by more than 15 percent over the last year.

An additional $20 million was cut from administration and libraries across the system, where each campus and the Office of the President will allocate its share of the reduction at their discretion. Campuses will also have local discretion as to how they will allocate their portions of the $6.3 million reduction to student services programs.

Funding for K-12 outreach programs will decrease an additional 5 percent with the new cuts because $3.3 million was slashed in Davis’ most recent reductions. K-12 outreach has been decreased by $10 million since the 2002-03 budget’s passage. The UC College Preparatory Initiative, which provides advanced placement course work over the internet for high school students, was cut by $4 million.

A student fee increase was approved to offset $19 million that would have otherwise been cut to instructional programs, UC spokesperson Brad Hayward said. Effective spring 2003, undergraduates at the University of California will be assessed a $135 increase per quarter. One-third of the additional revenue generated by fee hike will be allocated directly to financial aid.

Hayward said that the fee increase was made to protect the quality of education at the university.

“”While UC was reluctant to raise fees for the first time in eight years, it was the only way to prevent from cutting even further into our programs,”” Hayward said. “”If fees weren’t raised at this time, we would see significant cuts to instruction.””

Graduate students at the UCSD School of Pharmacy will see an increase of $250 per quarter and fees at the UCSD School of Medicine will increase $400 per quarter.

Davis announced on Dec. 18, 2002, that California faces a budget shortfall of $34.8 billion, or 45 percent of the state’s general fund for the 2002-03 fiscal year. Deficit estimates just weeks before stated a $21 billion downturn.

The current year’s budget agreement, which remained in impasse for almost eight months after the June 30, 2002, deadline, gave Davis authority to make up to $750 million in cuts by January 2003. Davis has since been forced to eliminate more than 12,000 state jobs to compensate for the budget slump.

The UC Board of Regents voted 11 to 4 in favor of the recent budget reductions and fee increase. Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, Ward Connerly, George M. Marcus and Student Regent Dexter Ligot-Gordon voted against Davis’ cuts.