Breaking down the state, UC budget debate

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The University of California and Gov. Jerry Brown’s office have deliberated for months on the amount of UC funding that will be provided by the state in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Last week, lawmakers agreed on a compromise that would provide $121 million in one-time funds to the university on top of $119.5 million in additional funding. The agreement will freeze in-state tuition for two years, although nonresident tuition could rise as much as 8 percent annually.

The state also agreed to provide the university with a potential $25 million based on efforts to increase the enrollment of state residents. This agreement comes after a November proposal by the UC Board of Regents to potentially increase both resident and nonresident tuition by 5 percent annually for the next five years, which sparked protests across the UC system.

Now that the state is well on its way to a finalized budget, below are some details for understanding the state of UC funding.

Where does the state’s money come from, and where does it go?

Roughly half of the state’s revenue for the 2015-16 fiscal year is expected to come from personal income taxes, according to the May revision of the budget. About one-third comes from sales and use taxes and corporation taxes, while the rest comes from insurance taxes, alcoholic beverage taxes and other sources of revenue. In total, the state expects to have $117,392 million in general funds for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The state expects to make $115,308 million in general fund expenditures next fiscal year.

Where does the UC system’s funding come from, and where does it go?

In the 2014-15 fiscal year, the university is generating about $26.7 billion in revenue, according to UC budget documents. Core funds — which include state funding, student tuition and fee revenue, and UC general funds — composed about 26 percent of the UC system’s revenue. The proportion of state support has fluctuated, with the share of core funds revenue from tuition and fees exceeding that from the state for the first time in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The rest of the UC system’s revenue came from its medical centers, government contracts and grants, and private support, among other sources.

During the 2014-15 year, the university spent 32 percent of its core funds on academic salaries, 22 percent on staff salaries, 18 percent on student financial aid, 21 percent on employee and retiree benefits, 1 percent on senior management salaries and 6 percent on other expenses, such as equipment and utilities.

In an earlier 2015-16 budget proposal, the UC system suggested a $459 million increase to its core fund expenditures. $125.4 million of this increase would have gone to mandatory costs, such as faculty and staff benefits; $60 million to “investment in academic quality”; $22 million to California resident enrollment growth; $178.7 million to “high-priority costs,” such as compensation and deferred maintenance; and $72.9 million to financial aid.

Why were the university and the governor’s office in disagreement over the university’s budget?

In a December UC budget proposal, UC President Janet Napolitano expressed gratitude for the state’s proposed 4 percent increase in funding for the university but said it was “far less than what is needed to meet our mandatory cost increases and the high-priority needs of our students.”

In November, the UC regents approved a 5 percent increase in tuition annually for five years, deeming it necessary without more state funding than that proposed by Brown. In direct contrast to the regents’ plan, Brown’s office proposed that the state would increase UC funding by 4 percent only if the university agreed to freeze tuition.

“All cost containment strategies must be explored before asking California families to pay even more for tuition,” the governor’s office stated in a press release.

What conclusion did the state and the university reach?

Napolitano and Brown froze resident tuition for two years in an agreement announced in May, though the university is authorized to increase nonresident tuition by as much as 8 percent a year for the next five years.

In the more recent agreement reached by lawmakers, the state will continue its 4 percent increase in funding for the UC system while also providing $96 million in one-time funds for UC pension liabilities and $25 million in one-time funds for deferred maintenance.

The state has also agreed to potentially provide another $25 million if the university increases in-state enrollment.


Contact Sally Littlefield at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @slittlefield3.