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Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday, January 9, 2015

Governor Brown Picks Up the Gauntlet

Governor Brown released his 2015-2016 budget proposal today. As expected he demonstrated no willingness to back off in his opposition to tuition increases at UC and CSU or to attempt to buy them out.  Instead, he insisted that his own long-term proposals for Higher Education funding were correct and demanded more responsiveness from the segments.  We will be back with more in the near future but I wanted to point out some of the most significant points.

1. The Governor has kept to his plan to provide approximately 4% increases to both CSU and UC. (38)

2) But he has reaffirmed that this additional funding is contingent on the segments not raising tuition and, in the case of UC, not increasing non-state enrollment.  The language is as follows:

For UC:
General Fund Increase—An ongoing increase of $119.5 million General Fund
contingent upon the University keeping tuition at 2011‑12 levels in 2015‑16,
not increasing nonresident enrollment in 2015‑16, and taking action to control costs. 
For CSU:
General Fund Increase—An ongoing increase of $119.5 million General Fund.
This funding should obviate the need for CSU to increase student tuition and fees
and can be used by the University to meet its most pressing needs.  

3.  The Governor also makes clear his intention to take on the political fight with the segments (particularly with UC) over the nature and extent of state funding.  Unlike last year's budget proposal the Governor's office makes clear the extent to which increased tuition revenue has itself been underwritten by state funds (36-37).  This has been an issue waiting to blow up for several years now.  Apparently the Governor's office has decided that now is the time.

4. The Governor is also insisting that his proposed task force on costs be instituted immediately. (40-41).  As with most of the Governor's approaches to the University the possibility that quality may cost more rather than less money is ruled out from the start and there is little evidence that he expects academic value to enter into the discussion.  Again, here is the language:

To this end, at the Governor’s request, the UC Regents are expected to form a
committee, staffed by the Administration and the UC Office of the President, to reduce
the University’s cost structure. This committee will solicit advice from a broad range of
experts, review data and develop proposals that allow the University to deliver quality
education at a lower cost and obviate the need for increased tuition or increasing
out‑of‑state enrollment. Specifically, the committee will gather information and develop
proposals to decrease University cost drivers, enhance undergraduate access, improve time‑to‑degree and degree completion, review the role of research, and explore the use of technology to enhance education. The committee’s proposals will be considered by the full UC Board of Regents. These proposals, in conjunction with the University’s sustainability plan, will inform ongoing discussions on efficiencies and reforms to improve the cost structure, student access and outcomes at the University.

It should be understood that in this context "outcomes" does not refer to learning but to degrees or certificates.

5.  Most of these proposals were predictable.  There is one oddity worth noting in the Budget. In discussing State debts and liabilities the Governor includes UC Retirement.  His proposal does not, suggest that he is putting any funds towards helping with that issue.  But in treating UC Retirement as a State debt is he conceding the point that the State has obligations towards the UC Retirement system or is he attempting to pressure UC to move even further in reducing the benefits of the UC Retirement system by lumping it with other systems more immediately subject to political control? Only time will tell.

If you are only interested in the Higher Education section of the Budget you can now find it here.


Anonymous said...

My read of the governor's comments...

Education will become the primary emphasis of the UC. Research will be a secondary concern. The days of faculty devoting their time to research while relying on TAs and grad students to teach classes will be over as far as Brown's concern.

Degree completion benefits both the student and the system. The student doesn't accumulates as much debt and graduation enables another student to enter. Endless "learning" is nice but in this age of strained resources, it's dubious at a public university. As Brown put it, as far as he's concerned "business as usual" has to end.

Anonymous said...

It all seems so inconsistent. The Governor decides to nominate three graduates of his alma mater Yale to the California Supreme Court (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/us/politics/jerry-brown-governor-of-california-takes-second-chance-to-shape-court.html?_r=0) and clearly sees the value of attending top quality universities, but is at the same time willing to deny such quality education to Californians.

It seems that the two most likely options are that the Governor and Lt. Governor will eventually win this fight and gut UC to advance their own political ambitions, or that the UC will become public in name only. One point of note is that the University of Michigan is viewed as a model by some for a public university navigating the waters of declining state support, and they have had about 30% out of state students; the point of note is that this University is quietly shifting towards 40% out of state students.

Anonymous said...

According to the San Bernardino Sun, CSU did not get the additional money it wanted included in the draft budget. Only 3,200 new students can be admitted next fall system wide if the budget passes as drafted. Sounds like there'll be no freshman class in the fall.

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