Gov. Jerry Brown signed a state budget bill Thursday that aims to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of higher education in California by reinvesting funds in the state’s public universities.
The 2013-14 budget will increase funds for the UC and CSU systems by 5 percent, about $125 million more than last year. It will also be the first part of a four-year funding plan, in which the UC and CSU systems will receive up to a 20 percent increase in general funds appropriations. The systems will also be granted an additional $125 million increase in funds for 2013-14 for freezing tuition costs in 2012-13.
“California’s finances are in very solid shape for the first time in a decade,” Governor Brown said in a press release. “We’re making significant investments in the things Californians care most about — the education of our children and adequate health care.”
In an effort to make higher education more affordable for students and their families, the budget also establishes an expected four-year tuition freeze for UC and CSU residents — from 2013-14 to 2016-17.
The budget also establishes a Middle Class Scholarship program, which will go into effect in the 2014-15 school year. The plan will slash tuition up to 40 percent for students with annual family incomes up to $150,000
According to a press statement by Patrick Lenz, the University of California’s vice president for budget, the university is hopeful that the new budget will allow it to hire more faculty and staff members and make education more affordable for students and their families.
The budget also shifts general obligation and lease revenue debt service for UC capital improvement projects to the university budget. The university will be able to factor these capital costs into the university’s overall financial projections. Also, the plan states that there are limits to the amount of the university’s budget that can be used for UC capital expenditures, which now need to be approved by the administration and the state Legislature.
“The university now has the authority to refinance existing debt that the state previously issued on UC’s behalf, creating savings that will go toward funding our retirement plan with potential additional savings to address other essential university programs,” Lenz said.
The budget also increases funding for K-12 education by adding $2 billion to California’s K-12 schools through the Local Control Funding Formula, which allocates funds to students with the greatest need based on English proficiency, foster care and income.
Additionally, the budget requires UC and CSU systems to provide reports for graduation rates, number of community college transfer students and number of degrees completed for first-time freshman students, low-income students and graduate students.
“Like other state-supported entities, UC did not receive everything it asked for in this budget, but the funding increase certainly puts the university on a sound financial trajectory,” Lenz said.
Contact Jane Nho at [email protected]