Money Talks: Checking the Budget

Peter Huynh | New University

Peter Huynh | New University

ASUCI partners up with administrators to field questions and present information on the budget system-wide and for UC Irvine.

Students and faculty attended ASUCI’s Budget Forum last Tuesday to learn about the effects of Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s budget and how money is distributed among different areas of the university.

ASUCI president Traci Ishigo joined Dr. Meredith Michaels, Vice Chancellor of Planning and Budget; Rich Lynch, Associate Vice Chancellor; Dr. Thomas A Parham, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs; and Bryce Thomas, also of Student Affairs, in presenting information and taking questions from students.

Michaels began by stating what Proposition 30 is and isn’t. It provides the state with revenue, which is generated depending on the state of the economy from an increase in the sales tax and income tax, generating somewhere between $5-7 billion to help the state balance its budget. Michaels did emphasize, however, that Proposition 30 is not a permanent solution to the budget problem, as its policies only last five years.

It does, however, provide the basic framework for a multiyear plan between the University of California and the state, and Governor Brown’s 2013-2014 budget is a first step in that direction, as it provides funds that will offset any possible cuts to the University of California.

The UC Board of Regents, in response to the budget, has said it is highly unlikely undergraduate students will see an increase in tuition this coming fall.

Lynch emphasized that while Brown’s budget plan means no new cuts from the state and no new fee increases for students in 2013-14, UCI is still employing strategies to generate efficiency, savings and reduced costs.

Peter Huynh | New University

Peter Huynh | New University

“If we do a good job at everything, we have a good chance of stabilizing our budget by the end of 2014-15,” Lynch said. “We need to work harder to get to full stabilization.

“We look at the whole array of revenue opportunities that we have. We are developing new self-supporting programs. We are trying to grow our summer session and preserve the cost of the core in structural approach and stabilize money for our primary concern, which is undergraduate construction and research.”

Dr. Thomas Parham and Bryce Thomas discussed the programs, services and opportunities students and faculty use every day through Student Affairs and broke down the different types of funds and how they are distributed.

The main sources of funding include core funds, which are made up of state funds, and self-supporting funds, which include auxiliaries such as housing, contracts and grants.

With a decline in core funds primarily from the state in the last few years, many branches under Student Affairs have had to cut back or find ways to become self-sustainable in generating revenue.

Those branches that cannot do this, however, must turn to student referendums. The Anteater Express, which had a referendum fail last year due to not garnering the required number of student votes; the Student Outreach and Retention (SOAR) Center, which is on temporary funding; and the New University are looking to referendums on the spring ballot for funding.

Cutbacks and layoffs, Parham said, are the last option to minimize the impact on students while providing the best possible experience. When distributing funds, Parham said student input was integral in determining which services were considered the most important and relevant for students.

“We will continue to implement process improvements, minimize layoffs and continue campus support. With no budget cuts [this year], we should be able to preserve these services,” Parham said.