Second Round of Cuts Targets State's Best Bet

    Ben Holm/Guardian

    UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA — In an effort to address the $11.2 billion funding shortfall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed additional midyear $65.5 million budget cuts to the University of California — already struggling to support surging enrollment while maintaining educational standards with stripped-bare financial resources. The cuts arrive during an already dire budget crisis affecting California’s entire public-education system, including — in addition to the University of California — K-12 schools, community colleges and the California State University.

    Higher education’s giant allotment of funds, second in size only to those of K-12 education and health and human services (both currently under similar funding fire) on the state budget, seems the most logical place from which to cut. Though we’ve slowly but surely been pulling ourselves from the hole, California is still in devastating debt — and, compared to more concrete areas of spending, the UC system budget is largely flexible in that there’s hundreds of theoretically downsizeable items to undermine. But in the long run, sanding down our highest-minded promise for self-betterment is dangerously detrimental to the eventual recuperation of the state’s economy and budget deficit.

    California’s nationally lauded higher-education system is an indirect contributor to the state’s future growth and prosperity — additionally working to shrink the social-class gap by providing thousands of low-income individuals with opportunities for social mobility, career advancement and the chance to compete for a six-figure jobs in more profitable sectors of the state’s economy. But the UC system also steps up as a highly visible and valuable player in the current California economy, hosting more than 370,000 jobs for residents and their families while producing approximately $16.65 billion of the state’s gross domestic product, one of the largest outputs by any given entity within our economic system.

    In essence, this shortsightedness could trap us in a permanent state of merely trying to keep our heads above water, instead of taking budget blows now in other areas and investing in our most concentrated cluster of talent to, potentially, overcome and prevent the recurrence of this drought in the future. More immediately, further budget cuts to the university will not only stifle the state’s economic progress by lowering both the quantity and quality of human capital, but cost thousands of individual families their source of income, especially within the middle and working class — the very demographic that has already bore so much of the brunt of the current financial crisis.

    The almost impossibly constrained budget could deal fateful blows to our reputation — and for this, dry up future private funding and the positive feedback that allows for attention and growth. According to UC Office of the President spokesman Ricardo Vazquez, proposed budget cuts may “force the campuses to turn to options like hiring more lecturers, keeping fewer ladder-rank faculty, reducing class offerings and increasing class sizes,” dragging the University of California far behind in the race for top honors among other research universities across the nation.

    Increasingly tighter fiscal restraints could render us effectively unable to retain and attract students, as tuition and fees increase and the financially feasible quality of each UC location inevitably dwindles. These latest midyear cuts could result in the reduction of course sections, graduate programs and student mental-health services — programs that leg-up public institutions such as the University of California with a competitive chance against private intuitions with unlimited funding inlets.

    The university presently struggles to maintain competitive hiring packages for a star lineup of professors and researchers; Schwarzenegger’s additional cuts could leave the UC system operating at 10 percent less than its original 2008-2009 budget, placing us in an even darker corner of disadvantage, in less of a position to attract and retain distinguished faculty who give the system its current edge. The pending midyear cuts pose a highly risky solution for the drought by halting our most promising source of economic stimulus and rejuvenation, further weakening a fundamental pillar of the state’s well-being and risking an even larger crisis for the horizon.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2320
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2320
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal