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California legislature eliminates conditions for UC funding

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JUNE 17, 2013

California lawmakers passed a revised 2013-14 state budget on Friday that increases funding for the University of California but excludes funding-tied performance outcome requirements that were proposed in Gov. Jerry Brown’s original budget draft.

Brown proposed about $250 million in funding increases for both the UC and CSU systems in his January and May budget proposals. Until this week, however, the funds were contingent upon reaching certain performance requirements, such as making education more affordable, decreasing the time to earn a degree, improving completion rates and increasing transfer rates, among others.

Legislators say they rejected funding conditions in the original budget proposal because the financial cuts to the UC and CSU systems would be too high if they failed to achieve their targets. Lower funding would penalize students rather than hold institutions responsible for poor outcomes.

“We, in effect, agreed it’s OK to have some accountability,” said Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. “But we lessened the accountability that was more harmful for students and directed that accountability more towards the institutions.”

This year’s budget still requires the UC and CSU systems to track and report the performance measurements to Sacramento as outlined in the original budget proposed by Brown. However, funding will not depend on meeting any specific goal.

But some of the performance measures were changed to reflect a more realistic target that better measures academic success.

“The governor had issues around the number of years people were in school,” Skinner said. “We modified that to be more focused around graduation rate versus trying to restrict the number of years people are pursuing their education, because there are so many factors that can affect that.”

It is also likely that Brown’s performance requirements will be included in future budgets, according to H.D. Palmer, deputy director for external affairs for the California Department of Finance.

“It is going to take time to develop the metrics,” Palmer said. “In the first year, we will begin work with legislators and the UC and CSU systems to develop how we’ll measure and gather data going forward.”

Nevertheless, according to UC spokesperson Brooke Converse, the tie between funding and performance requirements as designed in Brown’s proposed budget was not feasible for the UC system.

“It would have been difficult to reach some of the numbers in the proposed requirements,” Converse said. “We are not against performance outcome requirements, but we need to work with the governor to find numbers that are more doable.”

The 2013-14 budget, though approved by the state Assembly and Senate, will need to be signed by Brown before the end of the month for it to become law.

“We are very hopeful that the budget will go through, but the governor has the right to use his blue pen,” Skinner said.

Contact Stephanie Petrillo at [email protected]
LAST UPDATED

JUNE 19, 2013


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