Gov. Jerry Brown’s Cuts to UC System Could Double if Proposed Tax Extensions Not Placed on Fall Ballot

Despite a revised state budget plan that includes $6.6 billion more revenue than previously expected, the University of California system-wide budget cuts for 2011-12 will remain at $500 million and could double if a proposed tax extension fails.

According to a May 16 UC Student Association press release, Gov. Jerry Brown hopes to place tax extensions on the November ballot in order to close California’s remaining $10 billion deficit, down from the original $15 billion. With the revenue generated from tax extensions, the system-wide budget cuts would stay at the originally proposed $500 million.

But, according to UCSA Executive Director Matthew Haney, Brown does not currently have the Republican votes needed to propose the tax extension. If the tax extensions fail, the UC system cuts could double to $1 billion for the 2011-12 academic year, Vice President of External Affairs Samer Naji said.

“Republicans are holding up legislation to extend tax increases,” Naji said. “If voters extend taxes, the most that would be cut is $500 million.”

Gov. Brown’s 2011-12 budget proposal includes a $1.4 billion overall cut to higher education, which includes the UC, CSU and community college systems. According to a press release from UCSA representative Christine Byon, a $1 billion cut to the UC system could result in tuition fees as high as $20-$25,000. The UC Regents voted to raise tuition by 32 percent for the 2009-10 academic year and by 8 percent for the 2010-11 academic year. California resident undergraduate students currently pay $10,302 in educational and student services fees in addition to campus-based fees. Cost of attendance at UCSD with both of these fees is $11,330.

According to Byon, UC students plan to hold a budget “Day of Action” on Friday, May 20 to demand an end to higher education cuts and a vote to put tax extensions on the ballot. The United States Student Association organized a Day of Action for March 2 of this year in response to the budget cuts. UCSD students did not take part in this, despite last year’s successful March 4 protest in which 800 people marched. Other responses included UCSA’s Week of Action, which took place the week before the March 2 UC-wide protest and a March 31 nationwide walkout and strike to defend public education.

“Doubling the cut would reduce the state’s contribution to the university’s core funds —monies that pay professors and staff members, light the libraries, maintain the campuses and all the rest — to roughly $2 billion,” UC President Mark Yudof said in a May 16 press release.

According to Naji, the administration plans to deal with the budget cuts at UCSD by closing CLICS and other campus libraries.

University staff and students from the Student Worker Collective and the local chapter of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union met May 12 on Library Walk and Hillcrest Medical Center to protest the budget cuts. According to senior custodian Jose Puga, about 200 people attended the protests.

“Instead of cutting workers or increasing tuition, UC administrators’ benefits can be cut,” Puga said. “Their perks are very expensive, and all of us have to pay — both students and workers.”

According to Puga, taking $1,000 off of UC administrators’ benefits could save $20 million annually.

Naji is working with Student-Organized Public Affairs Committee head Arshya Sharifian to increase on-campus student voter registration and student presence in California’s elections.

“Jerry Brown kicked off his campaign at UCSB, which has the highest percentage of registered voters,” Naji said. “If we registered 40 percent of our students, he would listen.”

According to Naji, 38 percent of UCSB students are registered voters, compared to only 6 percent of UCSD students.

UCSD spokesperson Rex Graham could not be contacted for details.

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