California Legislative Analyst’s Office releases analysis of governor’s higher education budget proposal

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The California Legislative Analyst’s Office released an analysis of Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2015-16 higher education budget Friday, which included a recommendation to not fund enrollment growth for the University of California.

The report recommends linking state funding with expected inflation. It also advises that the state Legislature determine the way the state and students who receive a certain amount of financial aid share the cost of education.

One major concern of the university is the report’s recommendation that there be no enrollment growth, said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein in an email.

According to the report, this lack of enrollment growth is because the state predicts a decline in college-age individuals over the next five years.

Klein, however, said maintaining the current number of students is contrary to the university’s goal of increasing access and opportunity for California students. The LAO report implies that any enrollment growth would not receive additional state funding, according to Klein.

In response to the report, Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, said in a press release that California taxpayers feel a “quality public university experience may be out of reach.”

“It should not be harder for students today to get a quality UC or CSU education, and the LAO’s recommendation would do just that,” Siqueiros said.

According to LAO principal fiscal and policy analyst Paul Golaszewski, past tuition increases have followed a volatile pattern: Tuition and fees remain flat for five or six years — then, in the face of a recession, the state decreases UC funding, causing the university to respond by increasing student tuition and fees.

The report recommends linking increases in state funding with expected inflation — a 2.2 percent increase that would apply to all core funds, or the funding allocated to faculty and facilities. The increase equates to about $126 million for the university, which is more than the amount allocated in the budget proposed by Brown in January.

Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, described linking UC funding to inflation as “minimal,” saying the university should receive additional funding proportionate to the state’s gross product.

The report found that the university’s costs were, in many respects, higher than those of other public research universities. It concluded, however, that these costs were warranted, considering that the “UC faces higher wage and living costs than much of the rest of the nation.”

Overall, the LAO report is in line with the university’s approach to stabilizing funding and tuition over the next five years, Klein said.

“Predictability would be worth a lot. It would help students and parents understand,” Brady said. “Unpredictability is a bad way to run a company — or a university.”

 

Contact Suhauna Hussain and Anna Sturla at [email protected].