Archive for March, 1997
The University of California is entering into a very difficult and dangerous period in its relationship with the State of California. If UC is going to survive as the premiere institution that we all value, a mobilized faculty and links with other parts of our constituency are essential.
It has been evident for some time that a string of ballot propositions puts CSU and UC in a very difficult position. Propositions 13, 98, 3 Strikes, etc. have restricted the ability of California’s governments to raise revenue while putting major conditions on how it is spent. The K-14 educational system has a mandated funding base (even if it isn’t adequate to all its needs). But California’s public higher educational system is locked into direct competition with state prisons, which “3 Strikes” mandates to receive an increasing set of expenditures. Everyone has known that a day of reckoning is coming for CSU and UC, but it is coming sooner than we had expected.
Right after the November elections, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report entitled CALIFORNIA’S FISCAL OUTLOOK, with conservative projections that lead to alarming conclusions. It makes clear that unless changes are made in current law, “Corrective actions will be necessary to avoid a budget deficit in 1997-98.” “Left unchecked, [this] budget deficit would continue to grow over time,” even if the economy flourishes. A major factor driving this unexpected development is that under Proposition 98, K-14 expenditures are mandated to grow even faster than the budget as a whole. It is important to note that this projected deficit is based on the assumption that FACULTY WOULD RECEIVE NO MORE THAN COST OF LIVING INCREASES (thus making no progress on reducing the gap between their salaries and those of the comparison institutions) and that student fees would increase by the rate of inflation.
The Governor’s current budget proposal DOES advance faculty salaries beyond the rate of inflation for 1997-98 AND freezes student fees once again. But the LAO’s report makes it clear that the picture will be even more difficult for 1998-99. Given the highly politicized way in which recent budget debates have been framed, student fee issues and the tenth campus will most likely occupy center stage.
At the January Regents’ meeting UC announced plans to work with CSU, the Dept. of Finance, and the legislature to develop a new state student fee policy that would take into consideration the total resources needed to maintain access and quality and allow UC to maintain at least its current share of the state General Fund.
Assembly Speaker Bustamante (D, Fresno) has responded by introducing AB 1415 which would state the intent of the Legislature that, in order to keep student fees at CSU and UC as reasonable as possible, the proportional shares of those institutions in the annual state General Fund budget be at least maintained at 1997-98 fiscal year levels.
In order to keep options open, UC sought legislators to introduce a spot bill (placeholder) that would tie student fee increases and budget increases to enrollment and to growth in per capita personal income.
In this context, Assemblymember Ducheny (D, National City) who chairs the Assembly Budget Committee, would freeze fees for all students (including graduate and professional students) until the year 2000; commencing with 2000, fee increases would be limited to the percentage change in per capita personal income from the previous year. The bill specifies that the Regents would need to approve these provisions. It further states that it is the INTENT of the Legislature that annual General Fund appropriations for support for the segments be calculated in a manner that considers the number of students enrolled in each segment and the percentage of change in California’s per capita personal income during the preceding calendar year.
The fee freeze idea came from Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, as was also presented at the Regents’ meeting. He has also said that the statement of intent in the bill would not establish a fixed system such as the voter-approved Proposition 98 and therefore would allow the state more options than would a constitutionally mandated program. (ED: But doing so would not guarantee adequate funds for UC on an on-going basis.)
The Sacramento Bee has reported that the new Speaker of the State Assembly, Cruz Bustamante, from the central valley, has made building the Merced campus his top priority. At an Assembly Higher Education budget hearing, President Atkinson, responding to questions from Assemblyman Cardoza (D- Turlock) said that UC is on schedule in planning for a tenth campus for 1000 students in 2005 and 5000 students in 2010. He emphasized that the Legislature must be clear about meeting the commitment to current students, noting that UC has space on existing campuses for now but will meet difficulty around the year 2005. Cardoza asked when a letter of intent will go to CPEC (a necessary first step in providing a new campus) and Atkinson responded that he expected that to happen late this summer.
In fact, Senator Monteith (R, Modesto) has introduced SB 580 which would request the Regents to allocate from the general fund of the university an unspecified sum for the purpose of planning and developing a proposed UC campus in Merced.
These twin developments threaten a genuine crisis for the quality of UC and faculty welfare. But they also create opportunities. Speaker Bustamante and the student lobby could be powerful allies IF they were persuaded that their victories over fees and the 10th campus would be pyrrhic if new revenues for UC (and CSU) are not found. What might these new revenue sources be? What would they require in changes to the State constitution? The long-term funding proposal discussed above doesn’t yet address the constitutional issues raised by the LAO’s analysis. Informed sources tell us that UCOP is seeking Speaker Bustamante’s support for a voter proposition to finance the 10th campus. But this might meet only the construction costs of the new campus and still leave the recurrent cost needs of all of UC unattended. Such “details” are critical if the quality of UC is going to be maintained. We need to form an email task force of faculty to find appropriate solutions and to work with other major interests that see a need for change. Contact <firstname.lastname@example.org> to participate in this endeavor.
The Faculty Associations are the only group in Sacramento lobbying solely for faculty interests. The Academic Senate, whose functions the FAs are committed to preserve and enhance, does not work with the legislature save through the Office of the President. UCOP is in a politically difficult position because of the multiple constituencies it serves. Thus the FAs need to play a critical role in this crisis. IF THE EXCELLENCE OF UC IS GOING TO BE SAVED, YOUR CAMPUS FA NEEDS YOUR MEMBERSHIP AND IT NEEDS YOU TO VOLUNTEER THROUGH IT TO PRESS OUR CASE WITH LEGISLATORS WHEN CALLED UPON. The future of the University is literally in your hands. (See Join the DFA.)
Note: This article draws heavily on an essay by David Leonard, President of the Council of UC Faculty Associations.
On January 22 the DFA Board and Linda Wallace, the Director of Advocacy Programs for the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, met on campus with our District’s Senator, Maurice Johannessen (R, Redding). [The DFA and the Alumni Association have jointly sponsored a number of candidates' forums in recent years.] The Senator was elected in 1994 to represent a District that runs from the Oregon border to Benicia and contains all or parts of eleven counties. He came to the Legislature after having served as the Mayor of Redding and as a Shasta County Supervisor. The conversation lasted for over an hour and covered a broad range of topics, mainly of our choosing. This article can touch on only a few of them.
He is very interested in strengthening the higher education presence in the North valley. While he was a local government official he offered UC 280 acres of riverfront property gratis, including the necessary infrastructure improvements, if UC would develop a campus there. This offer was not accepted and the property now comprises a museum and lots of open space.
Ms. Wallace noted that a number of Davis faculty members have ongoing research projects in that part of the State, and Chancellor Vanderhoef has talked with representatives of Shasta College about using some of their facilities for UC projects. The Senator mentioned that CSU Chico is now evidencing a similar interest, and Board member Bill Lasley then suggested that UCD and CSUC should consider working cooperatively to create a higher education presence located somewhere in or near Redding.
On February 12, the Senator introduced SB 336, which instructs CPEC to “conduct a study of the need and feasibility of establishing a branch or campus of the University of California or the California State University at Shasta College in Redding.”
Senator Johannessen mentioned that Legislators are beginning to realize that it will be essentially impossible to finance the 27 new prisons that the Department of Corrections estimates will be needed to implement the “Three Strikes” law in its current form. He suggested as a partial solution using the barracks etc. that exist on abandoned military bases like Fort Ord to house the bulk of the non-violent felons, making them responsible for the restoration and ongoing maintenance of such facilities.
His analysis of his fellow Legislators was rather harsh. In his view they are too afraid to make hard choices. Instead, they 1) avoid controversy by not being decisive; 2) legislate by slogan (three-strikes); 3) leave too many decisions to the courts, thereby tempting attorneys to shop for venues. The electorate, tired of such behavior, then take matters into their own hands and legislate by initiative. The result has been a creeping, initiative-induced fiscal paralysis that started with Prop 13 and still continues, witness Prop. 218 on last November’s ballot.
Replying to a Board member who asked if he thought that higher education should fall in line and seek its own dedicated revenue stream, the Senator said he would oppose such a plan because the biggest obstacle he sees to UC’s financing is not economics but public perception. A steady flow of press reports of things like the extravagances of the Gardner administration, the Angela Davis Presidential Chair, etc., have not won us many friends. He said that Legislators understand the importance of UC’s research in agriculture and technology to the general economic health of the State, but he noted that Legislators are also “control freaks” who seek to use the budget to control the institution’s policies.
In this connection we cannot help but note the very negative articles in the “Sacramento Bee” reporting the Legislative Analyst’s conclusion that UC in essence lied to the Legislature when it promised that one third of the increased revenue derived from student fee increases would go to student financial aid. The Leg Analyst recommended reducing UC’s budget by the disputed amount, $19.8 million, and using that money instead to fund Cal Grants that can be used in any institution, public or private. The truth of the matter will presumably come out in budget hearings, but we suspect that if UC is vindicated that news will not appear on page A3, but rather on page E25.
As evidence that within limits the Senator does indeed appreciate the importance of UC research in agriculture and technology, we can report that on February 12 he introduced SB 332, which would appropriate some of the federal funds received by the state from fines imposed for oil overcharges as follows:
1) The sum of $500,000 to the City of Redding for construction of the Turtle Bay pedestrian and bicycle bridge.
2) The sum of $150,000 to the University of California for a rice residue management program.
3) The sum of $50,000 to the University of California for research and development of a hybrid electric vehicle.
His very great personal interest in item (3) above caused him to make a special visit to the Davis campus to review the progress being made on this front by faculty and students in the College of Engineering. He was evidently well-satisfied with what he saw.
In 1993, SB 506 (Hayden, D, Los Angeles) expressed the Legislature’s intent that UC provide a number of courses sufficient to permit normal progress to a baccalaureate degree. The statute requires the Legislative Analyst to review and analyze the annual reports UC submits on faculty workload. The University’s March 1996 report provides trend data indicating that 1) total student credit hours per student increased by 0.4% from 1990-91 through 1994-95 and 2) faculty teaching workload, as measured by the number of 1994-95 classes taught per faculty member and student undergraduate credit hours per faculty member, increased by 3.4% and 2.6%, respectively. This change in faculty teaching workload represents a modest increase in the LAO’s view.
The report states, “In the fall 1995, an adequate number of open course sections and classroom seats (800 sections with 17,000 seats) were available to students.” For freshmen entering in the fall of 1989, 43% obtained their degrees within 12 quarters of study. This compares with 38% for the freshman class of 1988, and 36% for the entering class of 1985.
Although the UC’s 1997 faculty workload report was due to the Legislature by February 1, 1997, as of this writing sources in the UCOP indicated that it is not yet ready for distribution. We expect discussion and comments from the LAO on this subject during the budget hearings this spring.
As you probably know, there are several steps in the UC budget process. First is the Regents’ proposal in November, then the Governor’s proposal in January, then the Legislative Analyst’s recommendations in February, then discussion in budget hearings during the Spring, and finally, passage of the budget in the summer. This article will review the major recommendations put forth in mid February by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).
The Governor’s budget proposes an increase of $126M, or 6.1%, for UC. The LAO recommends net budget reductions from the Governor’s proposal for UC of $28.8M, of which $19.8M would be redirected to the Student Aid Commission. The other cuts would be the $4M proposed for funding instructional technology and the proposed renewal of $5M for the industry-university cooperative research program. UC will have an opportunity at the budget hearings, if not before, to respond to these proposals by the LAO.
The LAO recommended deletion of $4 M requested from the General Fund for instructional technology (IT) because UC has not developed any specific plans for using the funds:
The Regents’ budget initially proposed funding IT from a combination of student fees, General Fund support, and in-kind contributions from industry. The $4 M included in the Governor’s request “buys out” a $40 per student fee for 1997-98 but does not include any additional General Fund support nor identify any in-kind contributions from industry. The Regents’ budget also indicates that in future years, UC will charge students an annual IT fee of $200, but does not indicate what might be requested from the General Fund or from industry. In the absence of a multi-year funding and expenditure plan, the LAO recommends the Legislature reduce UC’s budget by $4M.
On February 28, Assemblyman Lempert (D Palo Alto), who chairs the Assembly Higher Education committee, introduced AB 530, which would bar the administrations of CSU and the California Community Colleges from imposing any fees for access to educational technology services and would request the Regents to do likewise.
The LAO recommends a reduction of $5M from the General Fund for UC’s proposed industry-university cooperative research program, because UC has not justified the need for the funds:
The 1996-97 Budget Act appropriated $5M for this program, which the Legislature added during the budget process. In approving this amount, the Governor stated that he viewed the augmentation as one-time funding to begin the project, and that future expenditures for the project should be funded within the higher education compact. This budget proposal sought to continue state funding.
UC stated that the $5M in the 1996-97 budget would be combined with $3M in university funds and at least $10M in industry funds to:
· Fund a biotechnology grant program ($12M)
· Fund research grants in a second field to be selected from among information sciences ($5.5M)
· Assess the economic impact of these investments
· Continue planning the program
The LAO’s analysis of UC’s proposal indicates that additional funding for the industry-university cooperative research program is not needed, because 1) industry is already able to obtain research assistance in today’s marketplace, 2) the state already spends $252M for research tax credits, and 3) UC can market its research to industry with its existing $360M research budget.
The LAO recommended the deletion of $19.8M from UC’s requested General Fund appropriation for transfer to the Student Aid Commission’s Cal Grant program, because 1) UC has shifted financial aid resources to other university programs while student fee revenues have risen, 2) shifting funds to the Cal Grant program will give students greater flexibility when choosing which college to attend, and 3) funding Cal Grants gives the Legislature greater assurance that the $19.8M will be used for financial aid.
The Governor’s budget shows that revenue to UC from fees paid by resident undergraduate, graduate, and professional students totaled $583M in 1995-96; it estimates revenue of $618M for the current year and $630M in 1997-98. The 1997-98 estimate is 8% larger than actual fee revenue in 1995-96 because of two factors: increased enrollments and increased fees for selected professional schools.
The amount of fee money being used for financial aid is apparently declining. The Governor’s budget shows that UC spent $220.8M for student financial aid in 1995-96 and plans to spend only $216.5M in 1997-98 although the actual enrollment is projected to increase by 1500 students in this period. The budget proposal represents a decrease of $4.3M, or 1.9%, in financial aid since 1995-96.
The LAO’s review indicates that based on past practices, UC spending on financial aid should be $19.8M higher than proposed in the 1997-98 budget.
Although the Legislature could request UC to redirect $19.8M of its appropriated funds to increase financial aid for UC students, the LAO recommended that the funds be shifted to the Cal Grant program for the reasons cited above.
There is both good news and bad news for UC and its faculty members in the form of a public opinion poll of Californians taken by the California Higher Education Policy Center and reported in the Winter, 1997 issue of its publication “Crosstalk.” For example, Californians “still firmly believe that higher education is essential for job success and that the state should offer a college education to all qualified students at a price they can afford.”
Fifty-four percent of those polled said “California should maintain its commitment to affordable high-quality education….even if it costs a lot more in tax money. Only 18% said the state should cut back on this commitment even if it means turning away qualified students.”
While Californians favor easy access to college, 75% of those polled expressed a belief that “motivation is the most important reason for student success. Only 13 % believe that success depends on the quality of the college.” (ED: The latter finding suggests that our PR types need to craft a much more effective message regarding the tangible value of a UC education.)
In line with the recommendation of the Leg Analyst to divert money from UC to Cal Grants discussed elsewhere in this Newsletter, 52% of those polled “liked the idea of awarding state scholarships that could be used at either public or private institutions.” I.e., they favor giving the money to students, not institutions.
There is a strong preference for increasing the utilization of existing campuses, but there is also some support for creating new ones. In the former context, 95% “said public campuses should offer more classes in the evenings, on weekends and in the summer in order to accommodate more students.”
DFA Editorial Comments: This campus, as is generally true of UC, offers very few mainstream courses outside “normal” business hours. The community colleges and most if not all of the urban CSU campuses make much better use of their physical plants, and as Tidal Wave II approaches it would not be particularly surprising if the Legislature were to pick up on the public mood and invite UC to expand its off-hours offerings. We can only hope that they would also agree to fund the additional faculty, staff and infrastructure costs that doing so would require.
That hope could well be a faint one, for some of us still remember the middle 1960′s when the Legislature mandated year-round utilization of campus facilities, and in response all of UC changed from the semester to the quarter system. After that major curricular overhaul, the Legislature discovered that a 4-quarter academic year would require either 1/3 more faculty members or significant salary increases for most of the existing ones, and welshed on the deal. Shortly after that the Legislature also changed their agreement that UC would design new facilities for 100% occupancy within 5 years. On this campus new construction ceased virtually overnight and it took many years to get it resumed with Meyer Hall.