UC Board of Regents passes budget, debates new HR program

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Audrey Mcnamara /Senior Staff

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The UC Board of Regents met Thursday at UCSF Mission Bay, and unanimously passed the controversial 2017-18 budget and discussed a substantial program that aims to reduce administrative costs.

The meeting began with public comment. One speaker criticized an incident between students at UC Merced and police that occurred Sunday, categorizing it as “police brutality.”

UC Student Association President Ralph Washington Jr. spoke to the board about issues concerning graduate students, including food and housing insecurity. Washington also stated that African American UC students throughout the state consistently feel attacked. In regards to the Sunday UC Merced incident, he added that students were “exposed to police violence.”

The new budget for the UC Office of the President for 2017-18 totals almost $800 million. Slightly more than half of the budget is allocated for systemwide programs including research, public service, instruction and academic support. Almost half is allocated for central and administrative services including finance, operations, regent officers and public affairs, among others.

In a contentious new move for fiscal year 2017-18, the state legislature will directly contribute almost $300 million of state funds to the UC Office of the President.

Regent Hadi Makarechian expressed concern at the meeting over the change; he and other regents questioned its constitutionality. Of key concern was how much influence the state government could gain over the UC system. The move was described by Regent John A. Pérez as “benign” and “essentially a block grant.”

The 2017-18 budget is projected to have an ending balance of about $15 million. This is a decrease from the 2016-17 ending balance of almost $30 million, itself down from the 2015-16 ending balance of about $43 million.

Regents also discussed the UCPath program, which aims to institute a streamlined administrative system for UC employee payroll and human resources to replace the 11 separate systems currently in place. According to UCPath presenters, the program was designed to decrease costs.

In 2015, UCPath assumed responsibility for UCOP salaries, a total of about 1,800 employees — the first major test and implementation of the program.

The program’s forecasted cost is about $500 million. As of May 31, the actual costs were already more than $300 million.

The cost of the program drew criticism from several board members. In reference to the program’s goal of reducing costs, one regent asked, “Where are those savings?” Another expressed similar concern, remarking that “it looks like we’ve gone from UCPath to the long and winding road.”

Supporters of the program argued that the bulk of the cost is in the initial development.

UC President Janet Napolitano supported the program, stating at the meeting that she believes it is on track and “will be an essential part of the structural governance of the university.”

Contact Henry Tolchard at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @htolchard.