Even in the face of the looming tuition increase proposed by UC administrators, the Governor Jerry Brown did not budge when he released his 2015-2016 state budget last Friday. In his proposal, Brown allocated an additional $120 million to the UC, remaining steadfast in his original promise of no more than a 4 percent increase in state contributions to the university.
Currently, the governor’s proposal is directly at odds with the university’s recent tuition proposal, however. In order for the UC to receive the additional funds Brown has allocated, it has to continue freezing tuition at 2011-2012 levels. Conversely, the university seeks to increase tuition by 5 percent annually if the governor does not allocate additional funds beyond the $120 million.
The funding increase is still only half of what the UC expected from the governor, however. In order to avoid the full 5 percent tuition increase, Napolitano and university administrators called for another $100 million on top of the 4 percent increase.
“The proposal that Governor Brown released today is only the first step in the process of enacting a state budget,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in a statement. Despite the plan being touted by university administrators as an effort to let students and their families know as early as possible how much tuition they will be paying, political maneuvering by both the state and the UC is expected to continue through the following months. The governor’s final budget will not be enacted until July 1, after prospective students have received chosen which university to attend and current students have registered for classes.
“Students do feel like they’re being used as political leverage by both the state and the UC,” said ASUCI Executive Vice President Sanaa Khan during last month’s tuition town hall.
“It wasn’t deeply understood within the political system what that relationship was and what this plan does is put that reality on the table,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman during the same town hall The New University reached out to Gillman for comment. Cathy Lawhon, a university spokeswoman, said that he would not be releasing a statement.
Brown referred to the amount of spending proposed by the university as “exuberant overkill” and called for restraint.
“We have a carefully balanced budget, more precarious than I’d like, but it is balanced,” said Brown as he presented his fiscal plan for the upcoming year.
In his proposal, Brown emphasized that the additional funds are meant to improve UC performance, rather than contribute to efforts to expand enrollment.
Under the UC’s proposed tuition model, 5,000 more students would be enrolled in the university. However, according to Brown, a focus on expanding enrollment causes the university to consider performance improvements as secondary.
“Traditional enrollment‑based funding does not encourage institutions to focus on critical outcomes—affordability, timely completion rates, and quality programs—nor does it encourage institutions to better integrate their efforts to increase productivity of the system as a whole,” reads Brown’s proposal.
Previously, the university was able to mitigate decreases in state funding while expanding enrollment for California students by accepting more out-of-state students, who pay more tuition. However, Brown also expects the UC to keep its out-of-state enrollment levels from increasing so that resources can be concentrated on improving the quality of education for current student population levels.
“The University of California is created by the people of California,” Brown said during his budget conference. “Yes, it’s good to have some foreign students and some out-of-state people, but I don’t think that should be a financial mechanism. It should be more the intellectual environment of the school.
Brown also included a one-time allocation of $25 million for the UC to address its deferred maintenance needs. According to a UC long-range planning document, UCI has approximately $350 million in delayed maintenance, safety, and infrastructure repair projects. The governor’s allocation is only half of what the California State Assembly proposed last September. AB 1476, which would have provided the UC with $50 million in funds earmarked for deferred maintenance projects, was vetoed by the Democratic governor.
The UC regents are expected to discuss the governor’s budget proposal at this month’s Jan. 21-22 meeting.