Brown releases revised state budget maintaining tuition freeze

Jerry Brown speaks at a rally for Proposition 30 in UCLA.
Adelyn Baxter/Senior Staff
Jerry Brown speaks at a rally for Proposition 30 in UCLA.

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 Gov. Jerry Brown released a revision of his previously proposed state budget Tuesday that maintains a tuition freeze, reduces the proposed funding allocation for higher education and withdraws the previously proposed unit cap.

The revised budget, commonly known as the May revision, reflects new spending proposals from state legislators, changes in the state’s economic outlook and decreases in federal government funding since the governor’s first proposed budget in January.

The UC Board of Regents will discuss the revised budget at its meeting in Sacramento on Wednesday.

If approved by the Legislature, the governor’s budget will increase funding for each of the state’s higher education systems above the prior year’s funding. The university will receive an increase of up to 20 percent in General Fund appropriations — about $511 million — over the next four years.

According to the budget, these changes will represent an increase of about 10 percent in total operating funds, including tuition and fee revenues.

The budget includes about $25.4 billion in total funding for higher education in the coming fiscal year, $400 million less than was proposed in January.

In addition, a previously proposed unit cap has also been removed from the budget following rejection from the state Legislature. Faculty groups and lawmakers criticized the 150 percent unit cap on state-subsidized courses for its “one-size-fits-all” model and argued that the mandate would not be as effective as individual campus caps.

According to the UC Office of the President, the unit cap would have impacted 2,200 UC students in the 2013-14 academic year.

“UC will continue working with the governor and the Legislature to address critical funding needs,” said Patrick Lenz, the university’s vice president for budget and capital resources, in a statement.

According to the governor’s press release, the budget is expected to remain balanced in the coming years. Spending cuts enacted over the past two years and new temporary funds brought in by Proposition 30, which was passed by voters last November, are expected to allow the state budget to reduce the state’s debt to $4.7 billion by 2017 — a reduction of more than 86 percent.

“This budget builds a solid foundation for California’s future by investing in our schools, continuing to pay down our debts and establishing a prudent reserve,” Brown said in a press release. “But California’s fiscal stability will be short-lived unless we continue to exercise the discipline that got us out of the mess we inherited.”

Additional elements of the revised budget include changes to the state’s public school funding system, investment in job-creation programs and an additional $72 million for county probation departments to compensate for their increased responsibilities as legislatures try to reduce the state’s prison population.

Brown will now have to convince the state Legislature that his plans for higher education and the state merit passage. After discussion from state senators and assembly members, the budget will be finalized in June and take effect July 1, the start of the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Alex Berryhill covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @berryhill93.

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