Regents to discuss impact of Brown’s budget at meeting next week

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The UC Board of Regents will discuss at its meeting next Thursday the impact of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax initiative on the university as part of an update on the university’s 2012-13 budget.

The board will discuss the dire fiscal situation the university faces this year, highlighted by $750 million in cuts to state funding the university sustained in 2011-12 alone. As part of the three-day board meeting, which begins next Tuesday at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus, the board will also discuss a report on public and regential advocacy for higher education, as well a report on police policies in response to campus protests, among other issues.

According to Brown’s January budget plan, the UC and the CSU will each face a $200 million cut if his tax initiative is not passed in November.

Though a meeting agenda item detailing the discussion does not specify whether the board will take action to endorse Brown’s budget in the future, it states that UC leadership has been engaged in discussion with both Brown and the Department of Finance on the terms of a multiyear funding agreement proposed by the governor.

In early February, the systemwide Academic Senate introduced a proposal that requests that the UC Board of Regents endorse specific ballot measures or legislation that would increase revenue to the state and prioritize state allocation of funds to the university.

According to another agenda item for Thursday’s board meeting, advocacy activities have been essential in minimizing the damage of funding cuts and educating elected officials about the importance of reinvestment. The agenda item notes that a primary focus of advocacy activities has been to urge Brown and the state Legislature to make higher education funding a priority.

The item states that currently, 530,000 supporters of the university are part of the online “UC for California” network and related campus electronic advocacy systems.

Brown’s budget plan would add $92 million to the state’s share of employer contributions toward the UC retirement program. The university faces $362.5 million in unfunded mandatory cost increases, which include contributions to the university’s retirement program, according to the agenda item.

UC Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein said at the March 5 Day of Action in Sacramento that an official regential position on statewide tax initiatives is vital to garnering student support for the board.

“Unless the regents endorse a plan, the May 17 rally (and board meeting in Sacramento) is not going to have any support,” he said.

Damian Ortellado is the lead higher education reporter.