| Watch President Yudof's video message
Already, there are positive signs that lawmakers are hearing the message from UC advocates about the pivotal role the University can play in moving California out of a recession.
In early January, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a constitutional amendment that would guarantee 10 percent of the state general fund for UC and CSU. Two days later, Schwarzenegger proposed a budget that restores $371 million in funding to UC.
"While we deeply appreciate the governor's proposal to restore $370 million in UC's funding, it's vital that lawmakers approve the full $913 million in additional funding sought for next year," Yudof said in a video message to the UC community. Without full funding, the University this year will face larger class sizes, deeper cuts in campus services, and constraints on hiring needed faculty, he said.
Yudof called on faculty and staff to join the UC advocacy effort. "Tell your legislators that it's time California resets its priorities and restores UC's funding," he said.
The restored funding and proposed constitutional amendment "are clear evidence that the governor understands the vital role public higher education plays in California," Yudof said. Higher education creates opportunities for all Californians and paves the way for economic recovery.
UC faces at least a $1 billion budget shortfall brought about by two consecutive years of state funding cuts that have meant fee increases, layoffs and employee furloughs, academic and student service cutbacks and a severe slowdown in faculty recruitment.
Some funds restored
The state, meanwhile, is struggling with an estimated $20 billion budget deficit. Schwarzenegger's proposed 2010-11 budget was full of bad news for state workers, health and social services and prisons. But the governor stuck to his promise to hold the line on higher education cuts, proposing restoration of $305 million that was cut from UC's 2009-10 budget, plus additional funds for the Cal Grant program.
The $305 million will help restore instructional offerings and students services, like class sections and library hours that were eliminated or curtailed when UC lost those funds.
UC is also seeking $155.8 million for unfunded enrollment growth. The governor's budget includes $51.3 million to fund enrollments--enough to serve 5,121 full-time equivalent students--but the money is contingent on California's request to the federal government for $8 billion. If the state does not receive the federal money, UC will lose out on the $51.3 million.
The governor is also proposing $14.1 million for UC retiree health benefits. But his budget does not contain the $95.7 million UC sought for employer contributions to the UC Retirement Plan.
The next step in the state budget process requires the Legislature to review the governor's proposal and approve it or offer revisions. In May the governor typically introduces a revised budget that could eliminate or augment funds proposed in January.
Yudof said UC will now turn to legislators to ask them to adopt the governor's proposal and to look for opportunities to fulfill UC's request to restore the full $913 million to its budget.
"This money is vital if UC is to avoid declining educational quality, access and research," Yudof said.
Donna Hemmila, managing editor of Integrated Communications, contributed to this story.