Outreach Monies Blank in Budget

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget got a mixed welcome from higher education leaders, garnering praise for a $75 million state buyout of student fee hikes but criticism for cuts to UC outreach programs.

    Billy Wong/Guardian
    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger listens in as UC Board of Regents Chairman Gerald L. Parksy speaks at the meeting at Price Center on Jan. 18. The governor’s budget proposal doesn’t give funds to UCt community outreach programs, much to the chagrin of student groups.

    Funding for the university’s labor centers and academic preparation programs was absent in the budget for the second year in a row. Last year, Schwarzenegger vetoed $3.8 million from the Legislature-approved budget intended for the university’s labor centers. Labor centers include the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, which studies state unions. A specific line-item was not included for UC labor centers in this year’s budget, and will allow the university to re-evaluate the way it funds its programs, according to the governor’s budget spokesman H.D. Palmer.

    “This is an issue of setting priorities in the overall budget for the university system,” he said.

    The governor abided by terms set in the state compact with the university, increasing the university’s base funding by 3 percent. The boost will allow UC officials to dole out funding where they find appropriate, Palmer said.

    Money for labor centers “was provided on a one-time basis in the 2004 Budget Act, and these reductions are needed to help bring ongoing expenditures in line with existing resources,” the governor stated in his veto message of labor centers funding.

    The temporary reprieve given to the university’s academic preparation programs required the UC to “work with the administration to fully evaluate the cost-effectiveness of each program and eliminate those that cannot demonstrate an adequate return on investment,” Schwarzenegger stated in his budget last year.

    The state provided $17.3 million in outreach for funding at the time.

    This year, programs such as the Early Academic Outreach Program and Student-Initiated Outreach will face budget burdens under the governor’s plan, according to UC Students Association Organizing Director Ruth Obel-Jorgensen.

    UCSA board members will meet this weekend to plan lobby efforts to try to get the Legislature to restore the funding, Obel-Jorgensen said.

    The state did not provide money to the programs because the UC has no solid way of evaluating its programs, Palmer said.

    “The issue here is finding a measuring tool for outreach and programs like it,” he said. “We want to wait until that is complete until we commit to any funding.”

    Students will have trouble attending college with the governor’s denial of funding to outreach, according to UCSA President Anu Joshi.

    “Of course we’re thrilled about the fee buyback and saving students real money, but we are just as concerned about limiting access to the thousands of students across the state,” she stated in a press release.

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