Gov. Jerry Brown’s May budget proposal revision shows slight increase in higher education funding boost

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Gov. Jerry Brown released his May revision to the 2018-19 state budget Friday, slightly upping the January proposed 3.2 percent boost to a 3.8 percent increase in higher education funding and adding a one-time $100 million funding for deferred maintenance.

The original 3.2 percent increase was disputed by UC officials because it fell short of the 4 percent increase agreed upon with the governor. In an email Tuesday, however, UC Office of the President, or UCOP, spokesperson Claire Doan said the UC is “pleased” by the governor’s 3 percent increase.

“These funds will enhance educational quality throughout the UC system by supporting teaching, student services, faculty hiring and retention, campus safety, and critical facilities and infrastructure projects,” Doan said in an email.

Doan added that the $100 million one-time addition included in the May revision will help address the “most urgent” infrastructure projects on UC campuses.

Varsha Sarveshwar, manager of the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President’s “Fund the UC” campaign, said in an email that the $100 million in one-time funds for deferred maintenance is appreciated but “fails to reinvest in UC students.”

The UC Student Association, or UCSA, has pushed for a $140 million budget increase, which would account for a tuition and student services fee buyout, 2018-19 enrollment growth impacts on students and a one-time $35 million fund. Sarveshwar added that only the one-time fund in the proposal was addressed by the deferred maintenance portion of the budget revision, and not the remaining $105 million in ongoing general funds.  

“The Governor’s budget still fails to fund support services, counselors, and tenure track faculty integral for student success,” UCSA said in the press release.

Students from across the UC system have been traveling to Sacramento regularly to lobby state legislators for the $140 million budget increase.

UCSA University Affairs chair and outgoing ASUC External Affairs Vice President Rigel Robinson was among the students who went to the state Legislature, and he said that while the governor’s May revision is important, the most important revisions are forthcoming from the Legislature’s budget committees, as well as the speaker of the Assembly and president pro tempore of the Senate, over the next few weeks.

“We always knew the governor’s revise would provide little in the way of additional monies for the UC — but statements like this show that there is momentum in the Legislature for full funding of our budget asks,” said Robinson, referring to a tweet from California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lynwood.

Robinson added that in order for the UCSA’s interests to be reflected in the final budget, higher education needed to become a top-three priority for Assembly members, which he called a “gargantuan task” that the students were able to accomplish.  

Sarveshwar also cited Rendon’s statement, saying in an email, “We are still unsure of the level of support we’re going to get from the Legislature, but we are heartened by the fact that higher education funding — for UC and CSU — is one of the Assembly’s top three priorities going into these final weeks of negotiations.”

Part of the UCSA budget requests includes a buyout for growing tuition costs. The UC Board of Regents voted for a 3.5 percent increase on out-of-state tuition in March, despite student protests against tuition hikes. UC President Janet Napolitano said at the March meeting that the tuition hike, which was passed to accommodate growing enrollment, was in the “best interest” of the university.

The regents tabled a vote on an in-state tuition increase as of April 26 and will not vote on the tuition hike at their May meeting, advocating for an increase in state funding of the university.

“We can not think of a better way to invest in California’s future than to adequately invest in the current generation of UC students,” the UCSA said in a press release. “Governor Brown, we are worth the investment.”

Contact Amanda Bradford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @amandabrad_uc.