Davis Faculty Association

Archive for 2009

California Majority Rule Proposal

The Davis Faculty Association endorses UCB faculty member George Lakoff’s efforts to simplify California’s budgeting process. Please read his message to faculty below:

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To: UC, CSU, and Community College Faculty
From: George Lakoff
Re: Ballot Initiative

Dear Friends:

Are you tired of the repeated, outrageous increases in tuition and fees?  Are you angry that faculty and staff have been furloughed and laid off, classes canceled, and programs eliminated?  If you are, then please join me in stopping this craziness by putting the California Democracy Act on the ballot. If we are successful, public higher education will be protected and common sense restored to our state government. This battle is for all of us and I am fully committed.

But I can only do this with your help!

We need to collect more than one million voter signatures by April to place The California Democracy Act on the November 2010 ballot – and then we must win voter approval – to ensure the long-term funding and survival of the University of California, the State Universities and our Community Colleges.

What does the California Democracy Act do?  The Act is just 14 words: “All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote.” It simply changes two words in the California Constitution – “two thirds” becomes “a majority” – that simple change will restore sanity and common sense to our budget process and priorities.  What could be simpler than that?

This simple change will immediately stop the small band of ultra-conservatives in Sacramento who are holding the rest of us hostage! These ideologues want to starve our government and privatize our education system. California Democracy Act will restore the basic tenet of democracy – that the majority shall rule on matters of public good.

California’s budget crisis – and so many of our state’s systemic problems – are the result of the absurd two-thirds requirement that allows a small minority, now just 37%, to block sensible economic legislation. Their tactics create gridlock, impoverish our government, lead to massive cuts in education, healthcare, critical infrastructure and virtually every other important public need.

California is the only state in America where one-third plus one, only 34%, runs the legislature by blocking the sensible, responsible majority at every turn.

We can change all this by enacting the California Democracy Act! Only a majority is needed. No change is more crucial.  With your help and generous support we can restore common sense to California government. The task ahead will not be easy – remember, we need to collect more than one million signatures by April – but together WE CAN DO IT!

Here’s how you can help:
1.    Make an immediate and generous contribution of $200, $100, $50, or even $20. Make your check payable to “California Majority Rule PAC” and send it to California Majority Rule, 12021 Wilshire Blvd., # 542, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

2.    Go to our website, register and tell us what else you can do. You can get there by going either to www.californiansfordemocracy.com or www.camajorityrule.com.

3.    Help recruit volunteers for three areas: a) signature gathering, b) fundraising events and other activities, and c) the speakers’ bureau. We need organizers at every level: statewide, UC, CSU, and Community Colleges; we need organizers for faculty, students and alumni. Go to the website, click on JOIN THE CAMPAIGN and sign up.

4.    We need access to large email lists from faculty, organizations, groups and campaigns. Contact Susie at susieshannon@yahoo.com. If you belong to an organization, ask it to endorse the California Democracy Act on, then go to the website and click on “ENDORSE” to inform us.
So if you are tired of those repeated, outrageous increases in tuition and fees and angry that faculty and staff are being furloughed and laid off, classes canceled, and programs eliminated, then join me in this fight. Please send a check, sign a petition, help gather signatures, organize house parties, join our speakers’ bureau, or volunteer… WE CAN DO IT!

Thank you,
George Lakoff,
Goldman Distinguished Professor
of Cognitive Science and Linguistics,
UC Berkeley

PS: Share this letter with fellow faculty and with students and staff at your school; it will help us spread the word!

How much would it cost to restore access and quality to CA’s public higher education institutions?

CUCFA has posted a new working paper to the Keep California’s Promise site:  http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/?p=553

Executive Summary:

It is widely recognized that large reductions in state funding and sizeable increases in student fees have eroded quality and accessibility in California’s three-segment system of public higher education: the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges. But, until now, no one has estimated what it would cost – through restored taxpayer funding or tuition increases – to restore the system’s historic quality while accommodating the thousands of qualified students excluded by recent budget cuts. This working paper considers state funding, student fees and accessibility to answer three basic questions about the public higher education system in California :

#1.  How much would it cost taxpayers to push the “reset” button for public higher education, restoring access and quality (measured as per-student state support) while rolling back student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation?

Answer: It would cost taxpayers $4.643 billion.

#2.  Absent restoration of taxpayer support for public higher education, how much more would student fees need to be increased to restore the level of per-student resources available in 2000-01, at current enrollment levels?

Answer: UC fees would have to increase above currently approved levels by $7,398 (to a total of $18,948), CSU fees by $1,863 (to $6,756) and CCC fees by $72 (to $852).

#3.   If the Governor and Legislature were to decide to push the “reset” button, – reinstating the quality and accessibility standards of the Master Plan by returning state support and student fees to 2000-01 levels, adjusted for inflation – what would it cost the typical California taxpayer?

Answer: It would cost the median California taxpayer less than $32.

Letter to Governor Schwarzenegger re: funding UCRP

The Sacramento Bee reported that the Governor is considering providing State funding to CalPERS, in excess of the amount requested by CalPERS itself. See http://www.sacbee.com/politics/story/2373499.html

The DFA has written a letter, under the CUCFA letterhead and signature, to the Governor protesting the apparent discrimination against the UCRP.

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December 10, 2009

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160

Re: Restart funding of UCRP

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

The Sacramento Bee on Sunday December 7th reported that your administration is considering making a contribution of $4.8 billion to the CalPERS retirement fund. There was no mention in that article of your plans for the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP), however in the past you have removed proposed funding for UCRP. We want to remind you that the State has not met its obligation to UCRP for many years. Prior to 1990, the State had been making the full employer contribution to UCRP for state-supported UC employees for well over 40 years. In 1990 direct contributions into UCRP were suspended, based on the claim that the fund was more than 100% funded. However, it is important to note that the decision to stop payments into UCRP was made by the State, not by UC or UC employees. In fact, UC employees never stopped deducting 2% from their pay, although that money was redirected to individual retirement accounts during the “UCRP contribution holiday.”

We now find ourselves looking at a very dire situation with underfunding of the retirement plan. Starting April 2010, the employee share will once again go directly into UCRP along with a University contribution – without financial backing from the State. As long as the State does not contribute, the federal government and other granting agencies, as well as the UC medical enterprises, will not pay; they account for a large percentage of UC employees entitled to the full benefits of UCRP. As with so many parts of the State budget, dollars cut here deny the state multiples of matching funding from other sources.

The State has been urged in the past to restart its contributions to UCRP but these efforts have fallen on deaf ears. According to an estimate by the UCLA Faculty Association, at this point, the full annual State contribution to UCRP should normally be about $400 million but because UCRP is now significantly underfunded the State really owes quite a bit more – more than $1 billion. It is not acceptable that the State will make a major contribution to CalPERS, in excess of what they apparently requested, and at the same time totally ignore the needs of UCRP. This is an abdication of the State’s responsibility. We trust that you will reconsider the lack of contributions to UCRP. We look forward to your positive response.

Sincerely,

Robert Meister,
President, Council of UC Faculty Associations

cc:     Members of the Legislature
UC President Mark Yudof

Letter to the UC Regents from the Faculty Associations at UCLA, UCD, UCSB

Several UC Faculty Associations sent the following letter to UC Regent’s Chair Russell Gould.
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Dec. 1, 2009

Russell Gould, Chair
UC Regents
Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff
1111 Franklin Street, 12th floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Dear Chair Gould and University of California Regents:

As Chair of the Faculty Association at UCLA, an independent, dues-supported, voluntary organization of Academic Senate members on this campus since 1973, I am writing to you about resuming contributions to UCRP at the level called for by the new UCRP Funding Policy, approved by the Regents in September 2008 to become effective in Plan Year 2009-10. Joining us in this request are the Davis Faculty Association and the Santa Barbara Faculty Association.

We are attaching two documents, one longer, one shorter: the UCLA FA newsletter uses market numbers instead of averaged or smoothed numbers to illustrate more clearly the current status of UCRP and the need to increase the level of contributions quickly to the level called for by the UCRP Funding Policy; and a 3 point summary.

Using the market numbers as of September 30, 2009,

· The market funding ratio of UCRP is 78%.

· The unfunded liability of $10.19 billion dollars requires a contribution of  $1.15 billion annually to amortize it over 15 years.

· With the annual cost of benefits (the Normal Cost) approximately $1.34 billion, annual contributions of about $2.49 billion are required to restore UCRP to full funding in 15 years.

The Regents have approved contributions of 4% for the University and 2% for employees as of April 15, 2010 and to continue through academic year 2010-11 with slight increases over the next years. That is not enough. The better course of action is to begin contributions on April 15, 2010 at 4% for the University and 2% for the employee; raise the level of contributions on July 1, 2010 to the Normal Cost, 17%; and increase the contributions to the full cost required by the UCRP Funding Policy, on July 1, 2011.

Delay in contributing what the Plan needs is costly because of the reimbursement policy: the Regents make the employer contribution for all covered employees with the expectation that the State, the federal govt., UC Medical Centers, and all other independent enterprises will reimburse them for UCRP contributions in proportion to their portion of the total covered compensation. That means that if the Regents do not put enough into UCRP to cover the state-supported employees, neither do the non-state agencies, who cover roughly twice the number of employees.

The LAO is saying that the State has no responsibility for the UC pension, which shifts the burden, at least temporarily, to the Regents to take a big chunk of the operating budget or issue an IOU or a pension bond of some sort to fund UCRP. In any case, the amount owed, borrowed or raised will draw from non-state agencies more than double that amount. Therefore, when contributions resume, much of the money would not come from the state. And every state dollar foregone as an input costs another $2 in foregone non-state contributions, but UCRP is still liable for all three dollars. Furthermore, a not insignificant number of faculty members have growing doubts that UCRP will pay the entirety of the promised benefits, in spite of the legal obligations.  Eventually, these doubts will induce some separations of highly mobile faculty members, those whom we most want to retain.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please visit the UCLA FA website at http://www.uclafaculty.org/ and the Davis Faculty Association website at http://ucdfa.org/

Dwight Read
Chair, Faculty Association at UCLA

Ian Kennedy
Chair, Davis Faculty Association

Sarah Cline
Chair, Santa Barbara Faculty Association

Highlights from the UCRS “Advisory” Board meeting

Joe Kiskis attended the UCRP Advisory Board meeting (or, as Joe would call it, the “Advisory” Board) in Oakland last Friday on behalf of all of us and sends us this report:

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Highlights from the UCRS “Advisory” Board meeting Nov. 13, 2009

Preliminaries:

A) In this discussion, it is important to distinguish between the Regents _policy_ on funding and what they actually do.

B) Academic Council position on restart of contributions:

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/senate/reports/mctoyudof.ucrpfunding.june09.pdf

This Council position would require a contribution far higher than the 6% = 2% employee + 4% employer now scheduled to begin on April 15, 2009 and to continue into 2010. The numbers are now worse than they were when the Council letter was written. If the Regents were to fund their own policy starting in June 2010, it would require a total contribution (employer + employee) of about 20% of payroll. That is basically the 17% steady state number plus 3% to amortize the first 1/5 of the $1OB lost last year.

Highlights:

1) The fund performance for the third quarter of this calendar year was very strong: up about $3B or about 12%. For the whole calendar year, it’s up about 18%. Note that most of the numbers you will see quoted and used for the official calculations are based on the June 30, 2009 end of the fiscal year situation. For that FY, the fund was down about 19% or about $10B.

2) Based on the official methodology with 5 year smoothing, UCRP is now 95% funded. If the full loss from last year were included, it would be 71% funded.

3) As already mentioned, if the Regents were to follow their methodology
adopted in Sept. 2008, the total contribution for 2010-2011 would be about 20% and would rise to about 36% in a few years. Even with that, it would take about 20 years to get back to 100% funded and a normal cost contribution of 17%. If we follow the current slow ramp up plan, i.e. only slowly approaching the Regents policy, then by the time we get out about 10 years, the accumulated additional shortfall would require a 50% contribution to fund Regents policy. This is the really bad situation that has been discussed for some time now. The new part is just the more precise and official 20% quoted above. You can find all this discussed in detail in

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov09/f5.pdf

and

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov09/f5present.pdf

4) Based on the dire numbers, there was a discussion that focused on whether the Regents could be persuaded to follow the Academic Council recommendation. The suggestion was made that the UCRS “Advisory” Board recommend that the Regents follow the Academic Council recommendation. It appeared that everyone agreed with that. However, and here I come to the part about why I have been putting “Advisory” in quotes, the person from the Office of the University Counsel pointed out that although the board has “Advisory” in its name, it is not allowed to give advice or make recommendations. On the other hand, it can express concern or suggest that certain things be considered. It was agreed that the Board should use whatever language it could to support the Academic Council recommendation.

Also last week, the Task Force on Post-Employment Benefits listening tour was at Davis last Monday. A pdf of the powerpoint is available at

http://www.hr.ucdavis.edu/benefits/2rs/PEB-pp

There are also links to various video formats of the presentation at

http://budgetnews.ucdavis.edu/

UC’s proposed 2010-2011 budget now online

The proposed Regents’ budget for 2010-2011 is now online.

Long version:
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov09/f3attach3.pdf

Really long version:
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/nov09/f3attach1.pdf

“Key elements” include: maintaining only a 4% employer contributions and 2% employee contributions to the UC Retirement Plan for the duration of 2010-11; preserving the quality of employee and retiree health benefits programs; ending the furlough/salary reduction plan on August 31, 2010; continuing the academic merit salary increase program; increasing student fees 15% in January and then another 15% for next fall; and a proposal to reduce systemwide enrollment by a further 2,300 (current year is already reduced by 2,300), while continuing to expand infrastructure and facilities.

Oil Severance Tax Article

An article in the California Aggie about proposed legislation to begin taxing oil extraction to create funds for public higher education quotes DFA member Joe Kiskis. The full article is at http://theaggie.org/article/2009/11/16/oil-severance-tax-aims-to-support-higher-education and here is an excerpt:

AB 656 proposes a 9.9 percent oil severance tax for California oil drilling and natural gas companies. It is estimated that the tax would allocate $1 billion for UCs, CSUs and community colleges. The Council of UC Faculty Associations expressed its support for this bill in April… “The new funds would replace some of the lost state support and would therefore reduce the pressure for further fee increases and cuts to educational quality. However, this bill would fall short of generating enough additional money to restore a healthy level of university funding,” Kiskis said in an e-mail interview.

Hope for a financially stable higher education system in California may seem implausible, but AB 656 by Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont) rekindles some faith that the University of California, California State Universities and community colleges will have some help.

AB 656 proposes a 9.9 percent oil severance tax for California oil drilling and natural gas companies. It is estimated that the tax would allocate $1 billion for UCs, CSUs and community colleges.

The Council of UC Faculty Associations expressed its support for this bill in April.

AB 656 can provide additional financial support for UC Davis and the higher education system of California, said Joseph Kiskis, UC Davis physics professor and CUCFA Vice President for external relations.

In April, Kiskis authored a letter that represented the views of the CUCFA and included suggestions for the bill.

CUCFA suggested that the 11 member board of the California Higher Education Endowment Corporation create a public website that shows annual reports on how UCs, CSUs and community colleges have utilized the funds.

Funding allotment is projected to allocate funds so that CSUs receive 60 percent, UCs receive 30 percent and community colleges receive 10 percent.

UC spokesperson Steve Montiel told the Daily Californian that the university was concerned about the distribution of the money.

“We believe any legislation that proposes to provide additional support for higher education needs to treat the UCs and CSUs the same,” Montiel said in the Daily Californian on Nov. 6.

Montiel also said the university needed to know whether the revenues from the tax would replace existing funding and whether it would be made available exclusively to colleges and universities.

A representative from Torrico’s office said these distributions were decided based on the amount of money UCs, CSUs and community colleges already receive. UCs and community colleges receive funding from outside sources in addition to student fees. CSUs also obtain funding through student fees but rely heavily on money from the California General Fund, which is severely affected by the economic crisis.

The distribution is subject to change, the representative said. Community colleges may require more funding than the current 10 percent because more students may attend community colleges in the future, due to the rise in tuition cost for UCs and CSUs.

The CUCFA also recommended a different distribution of the funds – 45 percent for UCs and CSUs and 10 percent for community colleges.

“The new funds would replace some of the lost state support and would therefore reduce the pressure for further fee increases and cuts to educational quality. However, this bill would fall short of generating enough additional money to restore a healthy level of university funding,” Kiskis said in an e-mail interview.

With this bill, institutions of higher education will not have to rely on funds from the California General Fund. The California higher education fund would be established and divide the severance tax money among the institutions.

“California’s higher education system, which for decades has served our state so well, will continue to decline without a renewed commitment to invest in our public universities,” Torrico said in a press release.

Opponents of the oil severance tax believe the bill will not contribute positively to the current economic situation.

Scott Macdonald, a spokesperson for Californians Against Higher Taxes, believes that the oil severance tax will not contribute toward rebuilding our economy.

Macdonald said although California is the only state that does not have an oil severance tax for oil producing companies, California oil companies already pay the highest taxes.

“It will make oil production decrease, thousands of jobs [will be lost] and oil production will be replaced with foreign imported oil,” Macdonald said.

He also believes the oil severance tax would increase the price of gas.

“Increasing taxes undercuts the ability for the economy to recover. It is the worst idea at the worst time.” Macdonald said. “Higher education is extremely valuable, but we must live with the means we have. It is the most effective way to get out of this economic situation.”

The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee will review AB 656 on Jan. 11, 2010.

Nov. 16 teach-in well attended

About a hundred people showed up for the teach-in Monday night. Speakers included: Nathan Brown (faculty member), Tarone Bittner (of AFSME), Kaitlin Walker (graduate student), Catherine Fung (graduate student), Ian Kennedy (faculty member), Joshua Clover (faculty member), Jeffrey Bergamini (of UPTE), Jim Davis (lecturer), Kevin Roddy (lecturer), and Sarah Raridon.

teach-in-audience

Teach-in Monday, 7 to 9 pm, in Giedt 1001

Your students may have a lot of questions about the impending fee increases, and about the funding situation of UC in general. Faculty and students at UC Davis are sponsoring a teach-in from 7 to 9 pm on Monday in Giedt Hall Room 1001. The DFA recommends that you mention this teach-in to your students so they can plan to attend.

If you wish to present some information about the crisis, we have PowerPoint slides here, and there are a number of articles at the Keep California’s Promise website that would make good handouts (of particular interest for this use might be the 2 page overview discussion guide, the 1 page article on how tuition is being used to leverage Wall Street bonds, or the 2-page article about the disproportionate growth in administrative positions at UC).

LAO Report: Assessing California’s Vision for Higher Education

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has just issued the following report:

The Master Plan at 50: Assessing California’s Vision for Higher Education

Almost 50 years ago, the state of California adopted a visionary plan for higher education that sought to forge the state’s colleges and universities into a coordinated system, founded on core principles and directed toward specified goals. Adherence to that vision has been uneven over the past five decades, while changes in demographics and the economy have caused the state’s educational needs to evolve. The 50th anniversary of the Master Plan thus presents a timely opportunity for policymakers to take stock of California’s higher education system in light of current and projected needs and priorities. In order to assist the Legislature in such an effort, our office is launching a series of publications examining key aspects of higher education policy and funding. The series is designed to frame key issues for legislative consideration, and assist in the refinement of higher education goals and policies. This report provides an overview of the series. (8 pp.)

This report is available using the following link:
http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/PubDetails.aspx?id=2141

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