Lawmakers, Brown reach agreement on proposed $115.4 billion state budget

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Update 6/17/2015: This story has been updated to reflect an interview with UC spokesperson Dianne Klein.

Democratic lawmakers in the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown reached an agreement Tuesday on a $115.4 billion state budget, which includes additional funding for the University of California.

The proposed 2015-16 budget includes up to $25 million in additional UC funding — contingent on the university’s intent to enroll 5,000 more in-state students in the 2016-17 school year — on top of the $119.5 million in general funding agreed upon by Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano in May.

The agreement on $25 million in enrollment funding strays from the UC Office of the President’s original May plan: to obtain $50 million in additional state general funds in each of the next two fiscal years. The combined $100 million would have funded the first two years of a four-year plan to enroll about 10,000 more students.

Brown’s most recent plan also includes $96 million in one-time funds for liabilities in the UC pension system and $25 million in one-time funds for UC deferred maintenance on buildings in need of repair, according to H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the California Department of Finance.

Though the state aims to prompt UC enrollment growth with its funding, some, including UC spokesperson Dianne Klein, have expressed skepticism that the funds will be sufficient to accommodate 5,000 more students by the 2016-17 academic year.

“We estimate that we would have the capacity to enroll an additional 3,500 students by 2016-17 if adequate funding is provided to do so,” she said in an email.

Palmer, however, said Brown and Napolitano agreed that $25 million was an appropriate sum to increase in-state undergraduate enrollment.

“I am encouraged that the budget acknowledges our state’s investment in education for California’s students,” said UC Student Association President Jefferson Kuoch-Seng in a statement. “However, support for enrollment growth must be matched with allocations that improve quality and affordability at the UC.”

The newly proposed $115.4 billion budget also calls for greater investment in state education in general, with $14.3 billion in funding for the state’s K-12 and community college systems.

“Specifically, the budget includes an additional 10 billion more than last year for K-12 and community colleges (and) provides more funding to CSU and UC,” said state Senator Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, in a statement.

The agreement was reached the day after the Legislature passed a $117.5 billion budget plan, Assembly Bill 93. The Legislature must still vote on the recently agreed-upon budget proposal for Brown to then sign into law.

The vote will be scheduled to take place before July 1, which is the start of the new fiscal year.

Contact Andrea Platten at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @andreaplatonic.