How can we pay for our buildings? Legislative Analyst Report has some answers

LAO Report: California Infrastructure Spending

As the University of California ages, so do its buildings. But as the state continues to cut funding for the UC, the university’s buildings are feeling the burden. In particular, campuses like UC Berkeley are struggling to address important issues like seismic safety in its buildings.

At the core of every infrastructure issue is money, and the UC and state don’t have a lot of it. A report released last Thursday from the nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst Office suggests:

  • Fixing up existing infrastructure rather than building new buildings, which tends to cost more.
  • Directing state funding toward classrooms and other “core instructional space,” and leave the UC to fund its research facilities through reimbursements from the federal government.
  • Focusing on undergraduate and graduate programs instead of professional schools or other new initiatives.

Some additional highlights from the report:

  • The state spent just over $4 billion on infrastructure in the UC over the last 10 years. Include California Community Colleges and the CSU system, and that number becomes about $10 billion. A majority of that money came from bonds, a very tiny slice came from the state’s general fund.
  • Universities claim that new buildings are needed to match enrollment growth. But the report states that the UC’s space standards, which it uses to measure capacity, are more than 20 years old (CSU and CCC are 30 years old).