Approved State Budget Gives $305 M to UC System

Last Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an $86.6 billion spending plan, which gives $5.5 billion each to the UC and California State University systems. This is $250 million more than last year.

“While [the UC system] welcomes the funding restorations contained in the state budget, the university still faces significant challenges,” UC Vice President for Budget and Capital Resources Patrick Lenz said in a statement.

Despite increased funding, permanent state support for the UC system is still 10 percent below the level provided during the 2007-08 academic year. Since then, 16,000 more California residents have enrolled in UCs.

“It is what we expected,” UC spokesperson Ricardo Vasquez said. “We are thankful to the governor and the legislature for making higher education a priority, even as the state continues to face fiscal challenges.”

In addition, $5.8 billion has been allocated for the California community college system, which is about $108 million more than last year. However, $189 million of that will be deferred to the next fiscal year.

In the overall state budget, there is a $1-billion spending increase from last year due to an additional revenue of $5.4 billion from the federal government. About $1.3 billion of the federal revenue has been approved by Congress and President Barack Obama.

In the $305-million restoration to the UC system, $106 million comes from federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and $199 million comes from the state’s general fund.

In addition, the budget includes about $51.3 million that will provide financial assistance for 5,121 of 16,000 high school students who are not currently funded by the state.  About $14.1 million is allocated for increases in health care costs for the UC system’s pensioners.

The budget also provides $353 million for construction projects that will improve earthquake safety and student access.

Lenz also said the budget will allow the UC system to hire new faculty members and restore course offerings and student services.

In July, UCSD announced that it will be searching for 40 new faculty members during the 2010-11 year.

“The budget cuts for 2010-11 appear to be slightly smaller than expected,” Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Paul Drake said in an e-mail. “For the fiscal year 2009-10, no new faculty searches were authorized due to budget constraints. This is a rebound from one of the worst hiring periods in the school’s history.”

Drake said that last year, no new faculty searches took place because the university cut $85 million in expenses to balance the state budget.

“The crunch resulted in the general campus hiring only seven faculty [members],” Drake said. “A year earlier, about 50 new professors joined UC San Diego’s general campus.”

Drake said the job searches will not provide UCSD with enough new faculty members to replace the number of people who have left, retired or not achieved tenure.

“We’d love to get back to our previous hiring rate; we’ve been a growing campus,” Drake said. “Levels of state funding have been declining. Over the next 10 years, the size of the faculty on the main campus could decline by about one-fourth, or about 660 [people].”

Due to the setback in approving the budget, students’ financial aid payments were delayed and the UC system borrowed about $400 million to fund Cal Grants and operating costs. The university will have to pay interest on the money it borrowed.

Readers can contact Regina Ip at [email protected]. 

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