Governor Brown’s State Budget Allows for Increased College Funding

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California governor Jerry Brown, released his yearly budget for the state on Jan. 10, revealing a 3 percent increase in funding for the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems as well as a 4 percent increase in funding for community colleges. His budget also included funding for the very first public online community college in California.

The budget expressed an expectation that the increase in funding to the UC’s and CSU’s to reflect “flat tuition and expects the universities and community colleges to continue to improve their students’ success,” concluding that, taking into account inflation, tuition would be below that of 2011-12 levels.

UC Board of Regents Chair George Kieffer and UC President Janet Napolitano responded to the funding increase in a press release, stating that the “three percent increase… is less than [the UC’s] anticipated under the framework we established with the governor.”

The release goes on to accuse the budget for failing to “include for UC enrollment growth,” and that the UC’s discussions with Brown “acknowledged the need for ongoing, predictable state funding to maintain UC quality and access while requiring the university to lower its cost structure.”

In the statement, the UC’s expressed plans to increase undergraduate enrollment by 2000 students (1500 of which the UC’s would “fund from its own resources”) and graduate enrollment by 500 by Fall of 2018.

Following last year’s budget, in which Brown withheld $50 million from the UC’s in the wake of an audit that found the UC Office of the President (UCOP) was guilty of misusing funds, the 3 percent increase puts state funding back on trend to increasing annually.

This trend comes after a significant drop in funding following the 2011 budget, where percentage of the state budget dedicated to higher education dropped from 8.1 percent to 7.7 percent and further down to 6.6 percent in 2013 according to analyses done by BallotPedia.org.

However, according to figures given within the state budget, funding per student for higher education has increased since 2011; for the UC’s, funding per student from the state has risen from from $9,565 in 2011 to $12,076 in 2018 (as the budget stands at the moment). Comparatively, state funding per student for CSU’s is expected to be $8,386 while community colleges are receiving $7,450 per student.

Looking forward to the May Revision, as the budget continues to be modified, the UC’s will look to continuing conversations with Brown.

In the conclusion of UC’s response to the budget, they wrote, “The state budget process has just begun and we hope to continue conversations with the governor and the Legislature to ensure expanded access for fall 2018 and to restore the university to the funding envisioned in the framework.”

In addition to increased funding for higher education, Governor Brown’s proposed state budget is also expected to increase funding for K-12 education, with an emphasis on more equitable distribution of funds. According to the statement, “In 2013, the state enacted the K-12 Local Control Funding Formula to increase support for the state’s neediest students and restore local district flexibility over how money is spent in schools. With $3 billion in new proposed funding for the formula in 2018-19, the budget will achieve full implementation of the formula two years ahead of schedule.” With the funding, there is an expected increase of spending per K-12 student of $4,600 from 2011-12.

Another significant area of the budget is the Rainy Day Fund’s increase to $8.4 billion, “65 percent of the constitutional target,” according to the budget. Voted on and created by California voters in 2014, the fund is expected to grow to $13.5 billion by the end of the year if Brown’s proposed supplementary payment of 3.5 billion is approved.

Governor Brown’s budget also seeks to address health care expansion, transportation infrastructure as well as climate change.

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