Less than a day after state Democratic legislators passed a budget that included an additional $150 million in cuts to the University of California, Gov. Jerry Brown issued the first veto of a state budget in California’s history.
Brown announced in a statement Thursday morning that the plan passed by the Legislature, which aimed to close the state’s remaining $9.6 billion deficit, was not balanced and did not address the state’s long-term financial crisis.
Among the provisions laid out in the plan was an additional $150 million cut to both the UC and California State University systems, as well as the delayed payment of $540 million in UC bills until the next fiscal year.
UC President Mark Yudof has said that the university could absorb the current $500 million cut it faces without raising tuition but that any additional cuts would likely mean fee hikes throughout the system.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said in a statement that the campus’s share of the $500 million cut that has already been signed into law is about $70 million. Furthermore, the campus has additional mandatory increased costs such as utilities and health care benefits of about $40 million, bringing the total cut the campus faces to roughly $110 million for 2011-12.
“We cannot sustain any further cuts without placing an intolerable burden on our students and staff,” Birgeneau said in the statement. “Not only would this be very painful for our campus, it would ultimately be damaging to the economy and future prospects of California.”
The plan also included a combination of tax and fee increases, made further spending cuts and proposed raising certain fees, such as car registration fees and local sales tax rates.
“It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings,” Brown said in the statement. “Finally, it is not financeable and therefore will not allow us to meet our obligations as they occur.”
Brown attributed the lack of a balanced budget to Republican unwillingness to pass a budget that incorporated extending some state taxes that would be subject to voter approval, which he originally proposed in January.
The proposed tax extensions could raise an estimated $14 billion in revenue for the state by extending for five years increases in income taxes, sales taxes and vehicle license fees originally enacted in February 2009, according to a state Legislative Analyst’s Office report.
“We can — and must — do better. A balanced budget is critical to our economic recovery,” Brown said in the statement. “I am, once again, calling on Republicans to allow the people of California to vote on tax extensions for a balanced budget and significant reforms … If they continue to obstruct a vote, we will be forced to pursue deeper and more destructive cuts to schools and public safety — a tragedy for which Republicans will bear full responsibility.”
It still remains unclear as to whether state legislators will have their pay docked as a result of Brown’s veto. Under Proposition 25, which was approved by voters in the fall, state legislators are required to forfeit their pay for every day they fail to pass a balanced budget.
It is now up to State Controller John Chiang to determine whether the Legislature met the guidelines set forth in Proposition 25 — that the budget bills enacted show that expected revenues will equal or exceed planned expenditures. Chiang said in a statement that the proposition only references the Legislature’s passage of a budget and is not affected by Brown’s signature or veto.
“I will move quickly to complete our analysis of whether the budget bills passed Wednesday meet the constitutional definition, or fall short, which would require my office to forfeit their pay under Proposition 25,” Chiang said in the statement. “We are awaiting the final budget bill language before we begin our examination.”
Allie Bidwell is the news editor.