University reaches agreement with governor on budget

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, UC President Robert C. Dynes and CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed announced a multi-year “compact” agreement outlining state funding levels and institutional accountability measures for the UC and CSU systems on May 11. The agreement, which will extend through the 2010-11 fiscal year, sets undergraduate fee increases at 14 percent and graduate fee increases at 20 percent for 2004-05.

    Carina Weber

    Over the past four years, the UC system has absorbed a 16-percent reduction in state funding while experiencing a 16-percent increase in student enrollment.

    “After years of deep budget cuts with no end in sight, this compact brings the promise of renewed fiscal stability for public universities in California,” Dynes said in a May 11 statement. “Under the compact, UC will receive funding to … sustain its deep impact on economy, health and quality of life of California.”

    Although the compact maintains that undergraduate fee increases will average about 10 percent over the next three years, fees will increase by an additional 8 percent in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Graduate students will experience a fee increase of 10 percent in 2006-2007. Plans for professional student fees have yet to be developed.

    The plans for gradual fee increases have raised objections from student leaders.

    “How is this an acceptable solution for students who are going to be paying more for undergraduate education than was proposed in the January budget?” UC Student Association Chair Matt Kaczmarek said in a May 11 statement. “How is it a solution when graduate and professional education is going to cost more over the next three years than the budget proposed? This is not a solution, but rather a sell-out.”

    According to Heather Flowe, the vice president of external affairs of the Graduate Student Association, the compact will raise graduate tuition by 45 percent over the next three years relative to fees this year, and undergraduate tuition will similarly increase by 33 percent over the next three years.

    “I think that fee increases should be one of the last things enacted in order to balance the budget,” Sixth College freshman Kevin Wood said. “Education is one of the most important services the government provides, and I’d much rather see tax increases or lower prison funding than see students who are unable to get an education because of the cost.”

    Under the compact, the University of California agreed to use non-state resources to provide $12 million to support K-12 academic outreach programs, with additional state funding to be determined later by the state budget.

    Academic Success Program Director Terry Le said he was disappointed by the lack of state funding for outreach programs.

    “Though non-state resources provide $12 million in outreach, that still does not justify the governor’s action in eliminating outreach completely and ignoring the state’s commitment to education for not just those in college but those in years to come,” Le said. “That is a pretty clear message the governor is sending regarding access to higher education when outreach is cut.”

    The compact specifies that the University of California will reserve between 20 and 33 percent of new fee revenues for financial aid. The state will provide the university with an annual funding growth of 3 percent for faculty and staff salaries and other university cost increases.

    Although the agreement provides funding for an additional 5,000 students each year, beginning in 2005-06, the plan does not address the 11,300 UC-eligible freshmen that were turned away for fall 2004.

    “I think to deny access to 10,000 kids just for some promise that things might be better in the future is disappointing,” State Sen. Dede Alpert (D-San Diego) said.

    Many student leaders are also upset that the negotiations between the University of California and the governor were the result of a closed-door deal.

    “No students and not even close to half of the UC chancellors took part in the negotiations with the governor,” Flowe said.

    Schwarzenegger will need to have the compact agreement passed by the Legislature annually. According to Alpert, many Democratic representatives are unhappy with the agreement.

    “Certainly the Legislature wasn’t a party in this agreement,” Alpert said. “I’m imagining that the Democrats will be proposing some very different alternatives.”

    UCSA has officially rejected the compact, and UCSD’s GSA has unanimously decided to follow UCSA’s position.

    “Now is the time for students to organize and lobby the legislature for the accessibility and quality of the University of California,” GSA President Eric Frechette said.

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