More Budget Cuts for California Colleges

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Despite campaign promises to increase state spending on colleges by “pursuing savings in the state’s prisons,” on Monday California’s new/old governor, Jerry Brown (right), released a budget that slashed funding for higher education.

According to an Associated Press article by Terence Chea in the San Jose Mercury-News:

The leaders of the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges say the proposed $1.4 billion reduction in higher education spending could force them to raise tuition, turn away qualified students and take other draconian cost-cutting measures.

Under Brown’s proposal for the coming fiscal year, the 10-campus UC system and 23-campus CSU system would each lose $500 million in state funding. The state would cut funding to the state’s 112 community colleges by $400 million and raise student fees from $26 to $36 per unit to generate an additional $110 million. The proposed reductions come as the state’s colleges and universities seek to recover from unprecedented budget cuts less than two years ago that led to steep tuition hikes, faculty furloughs, enrollment cuts and rowdy campus protests.

The leaders of all three systems said the cuts would force their institutions to reduce enrollment. “The magnitude of the budget reduction in one year will have serious impacts on the state’s economy, limit access for students seeking entrance into our universities, and restrict classes and services for our current students,” said Charles Reed, the chancellor of the SCU system.

Well duly noted, but higher education isn’t the only thing that’s going to suffer. Due to the severity of the recession, plus California’s over reliance on property taxes and constitutional near-inability to otherwise raise public funds, over the next year and a half California will have a $25.4 billion budget deficit. Everything’s getting cut. California’s K-12 school system is the only item in the budget that won’t get less state money.

Brown’s tough new budget (admittedly the actual budget will look different) is understandable. I can’t say I didn’t warn you that, despite Brown’s ambiguous promises to make the UC system great again, he wasn’t actually going to be able to make that happen.

The University of California’s Mark Yudof said the governor’s cuts would mean a 16.4 percent budget reduction at his institution. He would not rule out raising tuition again to address that funding gap. After a 32 percent increase in November, 2009, the in-state education fee at the University of California is now $9,402 a year.

When Brown graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1961 the education fee at the school for California residents was about $120 a year. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer