California’s budget crisis will now be handled by adults according to newly-minted and former California Governor Jerry Brown. Nothing is off the table Brown said- except those who have collective bargaining contracts. That grown-up budget conversation came at the expense of the state’s coveted higher-education programs.
The billion-dollar cuts shocked college administrators and prompted warnings to high school seniors it will get a whole lot tougher to attend a University California like (UCLA) or any California State college.
Brown's new budget proposals include $12.5 billion in overall spending cuts, including $1 billion for the California University campuses.
“These cuts will be painful, requiring sacrifice from every sector of the state, but we have no choice,” Brown said. “For 10 years, we've had budget gimmicks and tricks that pushed us deep into debt. We must now return California to fiscal responsibility and get our state on the road to economic recovery and job growth.”
Charles Reed, the chancellor of the Long Beach-based CSU, said the proposed budget amounts to an 18 percent decrease in state funding for universities. This proposal, if passed by the state Legislature would take college spending back to the levels of 1999-2000. California universities currently educate roughly 70,000 more students than it did a decade ago.
“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,'” Reed explained.
Reed said universities have already raised tuition and employed furloughs, but it’s not enough.
“We will work with the administration and the Legislature to minimize, as much as possible, impact to students,” he said. “However, the reality is that we will not be able to admit as many students as we had been planning for this fall.”
Questions will surely mount as the state Legislature passed a DREAM Act law of their own. Arguments against the bill came from those who said citizens would have to compete for university slots with illegal aliens. However, proposed cuts will surely lead to more competition because colleges will be forced to reduce incoming students.
University of California President Mark Yudof called the proposed budget “a sad day for California.”
He continued to explain that “the budget proposed by Gov. Brown, the collective tuition payments made by University of California students for the first time in history would exceed what the state contributes to the system's general fund. The crossing of this threshold transcends mere symbolism and should be profoundly disturbing to all Californians.”
Yudof explained the chancellors of UCLA and other UC campuses will have six weeks to develop plans to meet the proposed budget reduction. “With the governor's budget, as proposed, we will be digging deep into bone,” he said. “The physics of the situation cannot be denied, as the core budget shrinks, so must the university.”
For the meantime Brown left K-12 education alone and said they have already sacrificed pay in the last few years under Schwarzenegger. Brown claims he will seek a June special election to increase California’s income and sales taxes, including the state’s vehicle license fees.
Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys, said the panel will start reviewing Brown’s proposed budget on this week.
“Brown's call for change doesn't hold anything back,” he says. “His vision acknowledges that we are long past a debate about cuts and taxes. California government must be restructured in order to be more responsive and cost-effective.”
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