Could Facebook’s IPO save the UC?

Mark Zuckerberg could save the University of California.

Once Facebook goes public later this year, the company founder and California resident plans on exercising a stock option potentially worth $5 billion, which could bring in as much as $500 million for the state once taxed.

“If it is as big as it is being billed, then on behalf of a grateful state, I will go to Mark Zuckerberg’s house and either wash his windows or mow his lawn,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the state Department of Finance, to the Associated Press.

Lawmakers are hopeful that revenues from Zuckerberg’s taxes along with hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue from investors benefiting from stock transactions in the short term could be used to plug funding holes in the state’s budget.

The revenues could be used to avoid cuts to the UC and California State University, which each face $200 million cuts under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2012-13 budget, should voters reject his November tax initiative.

State Assemblymember Connie Conway, R- Tulare, and state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R- Diamond Bar, issued a statement Feb. 3 asking that the money be spent on the state’s K-12 system. Brown’s proposed budget would reduce funding for public education by more than $4 billion.

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office titled the anticipated influx of Facebook-related funds “The Facebook Effect” in its overview of Brown’s proposed budget.

But it may be some time before the state actually sees the full extent of the anticipated revenues. Revenues from Google’s initial public stock offering only began trickling in to the state two years after the company went public in 2004.

Curan Mehra covers higher education.