UC budget slashed by $100 million

Gov. Jerry Brown slashed the University of California’s budget by $100 million Tuesday, bringing the total budget reductions for the system to $750 million for the current fiscal year.

Since state revenues fell more than $2.2 billion short of projections, Brown was forced to initiate “trigger cuts” to education and social services, based on the state budget enacted in June. Both the UC and CSU systems will lose $100 million as a result of the cuts.

The cuts to the UC, however, will not be passed on to individual campuses and will be absorbed by the UC Office of the President, according to UC spokesperson Steve Montiel.

“We’re using short term bridging strategies — asset management,” Montiel said. “We’re taking certain steps in the short-term basis to move funds from one pool to another.”

In order to avoid a mid-year tuition hike, the university will look to reserves from its employee health care services. The UC will begin to draw from its employee health care reserve fund — which is used to provide for a possible substantial increase in the cost of health care — to account for the cuts, according to Montiel.

While these cuts are not permanent, Brown said that his budget proposal for next year will also include more cuts which will be premised on how the public votes on an initiative he has proposed that would raise taxes. If these trigger cuts become permanent, then the UC will have to consider tuition hikes for the next academic year, according to Montiel.

Because the state revenue shortfall was lower than expected, the state’s K-12 education system will be spared from deeper cuts that would reduce the school year by seven days.

“These cuts, they’re not good,” Brown said in a press conference. “This is not the way we’d like to run California, but we have to live within our means.”

Brown frequently made allusions to Europe’s economic status as a warning of what California would look like if it did not “exercise fiscal discipline.”

Curan Mehra covers higher education.