California budget set to raise UC system funding by 6 percent

Nancy Skinners Office/Courtesy

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The UC system is set for a state funding increase of nearly 6 percent after California’s 2019-20 budget passed both houses of the state Legislature on Thursday, according to the California Legislative Information website.

The budget — which was introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, in December — will increase the UC system’s funding from about $3.35 billion to roughly $3.55 billion, according to California Legislative Information, if it is approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“The budget … is balanced, creates historic reserves and expands budget resiliency,” Newsom said in a statement issued June 9, adding that it offers “historic funding for our schools and funding to serve more students at UC and CSU.”

The budget also specifically mentions that it will allot almost $5 million to programs within UC Berkeley, including $250,000 to the Underground Scholars Initiative, which aims to support students impacted by mass incarcerationnearly double the funding given to the program in the previous year’s budget, according to California Legislative Information.

The budget also provides $1.2 million to establish a doctoral fellowship at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education in honor of Marcus Foster, who, according to the graduate school’s website, was the first Black superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District and was assassinated in 1973. The website states that the fellowship will support students who plan to pursue research and multidisciplinary collaboration in order to “improve educational and social systems.”

California Legislative Information also states that numerous items on the budget are aimed at addressing homelessness, prompting criticism from the California Republican Party.

“While Newsom’s commitment of $1-billion (for homelessness) might make for great headlines, his plan will likely go down as yet another Big Newsom Idea that ends up wasting tremendous resources and not accomplishing it’s objective,” the California Republican Party stated in a blog post on its website.

Among other funds meant to help alleviate homelessness and food insecurity, the budget makes $15 million available to the UC system to support food pantries for students, meal donation programs, students in search of stable housing and enrollment in the state program CalFresh, which helps low-income Californians buy food.

In a press release issued by her office Thursday, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, highlighted several aspects of the budget, including $2.4 billion for affordable housing and homeless investments, zero sales tax on diapers and feminine hygiene products for two years, a two-week increase in paid family leave — from six weeks to eight — and funds intended to increase the total enrollment of the UC and CSU systems by roughly 15,000 students.

“This budget supports California, its schools, families, and communities,” Skinner, who voted to approve the budget, said in her press release.

Contact Nick Furgatch at [email protected].