We're grateful that the latest budget proposal offered by the Democratic leadership of the Assembly and Senate keeps funding of higher education exactly the same as what Gov. Schwarzenegger is proposing. While we recognize that balancing the state budget is extremely challenging, it's heartening that funding of higher education continues to be a high priority for legislators as well as the governor. We strongly support efforts to increase federal funds coming to California, and stand ready to assist state policy makers in any way we can.
This budget proposal demonstrates the Legislature's continuing commitment to invest in higher education that is critical to the long-term economic recovery of California and future fiscal stability of the state. The proposed budget recommendations support the restoration of $305 million for core academic instruction and $51.3 million to support access for more than 5,000 students. The funding proposed in this plan would protect more than 4,000 faculty and staff jobs, reduce the potential for significant additional increases in student fees and protect UC's ability to enroll first-time freshmen and serve more community college students. In addition, the budget recommendations would include $355 million for capital construction projects that will create more than 3,300 jobs, consistent with the governor's and legislature's intent of supporting a 2010 state budget that helps drive job creation and stimulate the economy.
It's vitally important to the economic health of the state that, even in a tough fiscal environment, Democratic and Republican legislators do all they can to maintain the quality and accessibility of all three segments of higher education. The long-term future of California depends on a robust public higher education system that creates jobs, educational opportunity and innovation. For the short term, we very much desire expedited resolution of the budget, especially with the 2010-11 academic year beginning in two weeks at our UC Berkeley and UC Merced campuses and next month at our other eight campuses.