Higher Education Dealt Devastating Blow with Additional $300 Million Cut
12:15pm | Despite California state revenues being up, the press conference held yesterday by Governor Jerry Brown dealt a devastating blow to higher education institutions across the state. With a $2.2 billion shortfall on estimated revenues, an additional $1 billion will be cut by enacting so-called "trigger cuts," a term used when a cut is automatically instituted because state leaders' original budget projections came short.
Employing a Latin phrase to emphasize his point, Brown put it succinctly when he stated, "Nemo dat [quod] non habet; it means, 'No man gives what he does not have.' The state cannot give what it does not have."
What the state does not have: $300 million for the three higher education systems within the state, consisting of the Universities of California (UC), the California State Universities (CSU), and the Community Colleges (CC).
The CSU and UC systems have already had a $650 million budget cut this year. The 23-campus CSU system, the nation's largest public higher education with 412,000 students and 43,000 faculty and staff, will now receive a total of $2 billion this year from the state. This is 27 percent below last year’s funding, bringing it to the lowest level of state support to CSU since 1997-98, although the system now has 90,000 more students. Chancellor Charles Reed, already under scrutiny from students and the public for the CSU Board's controversial recent vote, has publicly stated, "It is disheartening to say the least when your budget is cut by an initial $650 million, but to face an additional $100 million reduction mid-year makes things extremely challenging. We were aware that this was a possibility, and our campuses have been planning accordingly. However, the uncertainty of the overall fiscal outlook for the state is not encouraging, and the CSU has run out of good options."
The 10-campus UC system, comprised of about 230,00 students and over 200,000 faculty and staff members, will also face an additional $100 million cut. "The University has consistently objected to additional mid-year cuts," stated UC President Mark Yudof in a public statement, "and while we certainly understand the ongoing fiscal challenges the State faces, we are requesting that this latest reduction be considered a one-time cut to UC’s budget and not made a permanent reduction. We will ask to have this funding restored to UC at the beginning of the next fiscal year." In order to avoid a mid-year tuition hike, the university will look to draw reserves from its employee health care services fund — which is used to provide for a possible substantial increase in the cost of health care — to account for the cuts, according to UC spokesperson Steve Montiel.
The K-12 system, which possibly faced an overwhelming $1.4 billion cut, was given a far less detrimental blow with a $328 million, or what amounts to $55 per student. This cut was passed via Proposition 98 and Brown broke it into two parts: about $80 million for basic school funding, and on what educational expert Kathryn Baron calls "fuzzy," an enormous $248 million reduction in home-to-school transportation. Los Angeles Unified, the state's largest district, was given a monumental $38 million cut, which it claims will effectively shut down the school's busing program and leaving 35,000 students with the inability to get to school. LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said the district will be suing the state in "support [of] our students in school and [to] act aggressively to halt the devastating cuts."