by Charles P. Nash
On January 10, 2002, Governor Davis submitted his budget recommendations for the fiscal year 2002-2003 to the Legislature. They included current-year (2001-2002) cuts in the base budgets of many agencies, including UC, as well as greatly curtailed augmentations for the upcoming one because his advisers were projecting a revenue shortfall in the target year of ca. $12.5 M. More recent estimates by the Legislative Analyst’s Office suggest that the shortfall could be as large as $16.5 M.
The Governor’s recommended permanent cuts, amounting to $36 M, would not affect the core educational programs of the University. His suggested one-time cut of $5 M in the clinical teaching support for UC’s hospitals, neuropsychiatric institutes and dental clinics was rejected in the first meeting of the Joint Legislative Budget committees.
His proposed UC budget for 2002-2003 included total increases under the so-called “partnership” of $181.9 M. The Regents’ budget adopted last November asked for $353.9 M in these same categories. If there is any good news it is that the Governor’s budget fully funds a projected enrollment increase of 7100 FTE students (a 4.3% enrollment increase). Gov. Davis’s salary budget provides barely enough money to fund faculty and staff merit increases and promotions, with nothing left over for a general cost of living increase (COLA). [N.B. The COLA for the current year (2001-2001) was only 0.5%.] The cu rrent estimate is that with no COLA in 2002-03, UC faculty salaries will be 7% behind those of our Comparison 8′s at the end of that fiscal year. To continue with the bad news, the Regents asked for a 10% increase in the state appropriation for employ ee health and dental benefits, the Governor’s budget provides only 6.7% (a difference of $12.4 M), and UCOP’s current guesstimate is that the cost increase could be close to 15%.
The proposed budget freezes student fees for the eighth consecutive year. This time, however, there is no recommendation for a State appropriation to “buy out” the lost revenue. The attendant loss (taking into account both undergraduate and graduate/professional fee requests that were included in the Regents’ budget) is almost $39 M. This figure is so large that at the January Regents Meeting Vice President Hershman actually uttered the words “fee increase.” The student regent obviously opposed even considering one.
On February 20 the Legislative Analyst’s Office released its analysis of the budget situation, including the larger estimated revenue shortfall noted above, and made recommendations in several areas of the UC operating budget including student fees, state-supported summer instruction, financial aid, outreach, teacher professional development programs, and UC-CSU joint doctoral programs in education. Of particular interest to the faculty is their recommendation for a one-time cut of up to 5% (i.e., $16.8 M) in the University’s General Fund Research Budget. Our contacts in UCOP tell us that they were prepared for such a recommendation because one appears every time the State is in financial difficulty, and they were already working on counter-arguments when the report came out.
Also in the research context, the capital funding for the four California Institutes for Science and Innovation is currently mired in partisan political wrangling. The Governor believes that construction of the Institutes will contribute significantly to the State’s economic recovery. Senator Steve Peace (D, San Diego) plans to introduce a bill to fund all the Institutes’ remaining construction projects with lease-revenue bonds rather than from the heavily impacted General Fund. UC and the Governor want the bill to be considered immediately. They fear that delaying or deferring the projects could threaten the matching funds provided by California industries, which so-far have provided a 3:1 match rather than the 2:1 match called for in the enabling legislation passed in 2001-02. The Assembly Republican caucus prefers to consider the Peace bill as part of the overall budget process.
Legislative budget hearings have just begun, with overview presentations to the Assembly Budget Committee on March 13 and the Senate Budget Committee on March 20. The CUCFA team including Lobbying Coordinator Myrna Hays, Council Vice-President Charles Nash, and Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe professional Lobbyist Joanne Bettencourt have now met with Senator Jack Scott, Chair of the Education Committee, Assemblymember Joe Simitian, Chair of the Higher Education Budget sub-committee, the principal staff aide to Assemblymember Jenny Oropeza, Chair of the full Assembly Budget Committee, and Assemblymember Elaine Alquist, Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. All of these individuals warned us that this year would be very difficult. To his credit, Simitian (a realist) told us that as rocky as 2002-03 might appear, 2003-04 will likely be even worse.
CUCFA’s lobbying team are also tracking several bills of possible interest to the faculty, including one to limit salary increases for high level administrators to the same percentage as those for the unionized staff, several bills having to do with student fees, and two bills by Assemblymember Aroner; one deals with impasse procedures in higher education labor relations and the other with funding for higher education student housing. As the latter bill progresses we may ask the author to consider extending its scope to include faculty housing.
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