Gov. Proposes Mid Year Cuts to University Funding

    With an $11.2 billion budget shortfall looming over California’s economy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger convened an emergency legislative meeting Nov. 9 to propose a series of midyear budget cuts, including an additional $65.5 million reduction to state funding for the University of California.

    Calling for a total $132 million decrease in funding for the UC and California State University systems in addition to a $2.3 billion reduction to K-12 funding, Schwarzenegger’s plan was developed to address the state’s ongoing economic difficulties.

    A shortfall projected at $14.5 billion earlier this year prompted drastic budget cuts to nearly all state-funded enterprises and operations included in the 2008-09 state budget. The continued severity of the economic downturn led Schwarzenegger to seek additional budget reductions in an effort to revive California’s ailing economy.

    University officials contend that the suggested midyear cuts would place an untold financial strain on the university, which has already been forced to endure the effects of a budget that fell $100 million short of the amount deemed necessary by the Board of Regents last year to support continued enrollment growth.

    UC Office of the President spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said the additional cuts would likely require campuses to search for savings in areas that would otherwise be considered safe from the impacts of financial reductions.

    “If these cuts are approved there would definitely be deeper budget cuts and it would force campuses to turn to other reductions that would potentially have an impact on the quality of the educational experience at the UC,” Vazquez said. “It would force the campuses to turn to options like hiring more lecturers, having fewer ladder-rank faculty, reducing class offerings and increasing class sizes. It would definitely have a more harsh impact.”

    UC President Mark G. Yudof called for legislators to consider the importance of higher education before finalizing any decisions regarding funding for California’s public universities.

    “We are of course disappointed to be facing another potential budget cut on top of the reductions we are already making this year,” Yudof said. “We believe higher education is crucial to California’s ability to grow its way out of this economic downturn, and we ultimately need to be talking about ways to improve investment in our state’s human capital.”

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