Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $209-billion state budget proposal allocates funds to UC system

Ariel Lung/Staff

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On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a $209-billion state budget proposal that allocates $36.4 billion to higher education, including the UC, CSU and community college systems.

The CSU system would receive $247 million for deferred maintenance and expand child care, along with an additional $15 million for housing and student hunger aid. The UC system would gain a one-time $138 million grant for deferred maintenance and an additional $15 million for housing and student hunger aid.

“I’m encouraged that Governor Newsom is proposing to significantly increase investment in the University of California system. It’s the responsibility of the state — not students and their families — to fund public higher education,” said ASUC State Affairs Director Varsha Sarveshwar in an email.

Community colleges would receive $402 million under the budget, resulting in a second year of free tuition for full-time students and legal services for undocumented students. There would also be a $121 million increase in state grants to students with dependent children at all levels of state colleges.

UC Board of Regents chair George Kieffer and UC President Janet Napolitano issued a statement Thursday in response to Newsom’s plan, stating that the UC appreciates the investment in higher education and looks forward to working with the governor and the state Legislature in the future.

Sarah Abdeshahian, a campus student and a board member of the UC Student Association, said in an email that she is excited about the overall direction of the budget proposal but wishes to see a few changes.

“We are already struggling to meet the demands of current enrollment numbers. The state wants us to continue to increase the number of enrolled students but the proposed $10 million is not enough,” Abdeshahian said in the email. “While financial aid is a good start, the UC also needs $7.5 million in additional funding for basic needs programs and resources in order to truly alleviate some of the basic needs insecurity on our campuses.”

Apart from higher education, Newsom’s budget plan focuses on early education, housing, health and human services, and debt.

The budget proposes $125 million toward improving preschool accessibility, $750 million for increasing housing construction and navigation centers for the homeless community, and raising cash grants for state welfare program CalWORKS.

The proposal plans to allocate about $13.6 billion to alleviate the state’s debts, along with adding to the rainy-day fund as well as building other reserves and unfunded retirement benefit costs.

The proposal includes a $144-billion general fund, which represents a 4 percent increase over former governor Jerry Brown’s spending plan signed in June. This makes the total proposal about $8 billion more than Brown’s final budget.

“While it’s still early in the budget cycle, I’m hopeful that this increased investment will help ease the strain on classrooms and student services as well as provide support for historically marginalized communities on our campuses,” Sarveshwar said in an email.

Contact Thao Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal allocates $1.4 billion to higher education. In fact, the budget allocates $36.4 billion to higher education, which reflects a growth of $1.4 billion compared to revised 2018-19 expenditures.