CUCFA was very active this legislative session. What follows are updates on the bills that we acted on and discussed with legislators.
This year the state budget was reasonably generous to UC, providing funding above the minimums specified in the 2004 compact between UC and the Governor. UC will receive $3.077 billion, an 8.2 percent increase ($234 million) above the 2005-06 budget. Some of this money is to be used by UC to provide all faculty and staff with an average 4% compensation increase; this is higher than the 3% increase that had been expected, but is only a small step considering UC employee salaries are currently 15% behind comparison institutions.
The state’s budget also buys out UC’s planned $75 million in student fee increases; systemwide student fees (not including campus specific fees) for 2006-07 will stay at the 2005-06 level of $6,141 per year for undergraduates and $6,897 for graduate students. Nonresident undergraduate fees do take a 5% hit, increasing to $25486, while nonresident graduate student fees (one of CUCFA’s priority issues) will stay at $23,669.
There was considerable drama surrounding the funding of UC’s enrollment growth. UC and CSU had successfully advocated a reformulation of the marginal cost formula (the amount of money the state funds each institution for each new student enrolled). The new formula was due this year, but, because the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Governor’s Office came up with disparate proposals, the legislature was proposing to continue using the old formula. Since both proposed formulas boosted funding significantly (the LAO proposed $8,574 per student, the Governor $10,103), staying with the old formula would have cost UC significantly. In the end the state funded UC for 2.5% growth at the new level of $9,900 per student.
This year, the budget also included language related to UC’s executive compensation practices.
The Issue of UC’s Executive Compensation:
UC’s relationship with many in the public and thus with some legislators soured this year when media reports (starting in the San Francisco Chronicle in November of 2005) revealed gross mismanagement with the way UCOP had handled total compensation of some top executives in Oakland and at individual campuses. This resulted in a flurry of legislation (e.g. SB 1117, SB 1181, SB 1571 and AB 775) designed to make UC’s executive compensation practices more transparent to the public.
CUCFA was supportive of the idea of greater transparency in executive compensation. However, because these were issues that UC had promised to fix when they previously came to light in 1993, most of the proposed legislation had some form of punishment that would be triggered if UC failed to address the issue this time around. CUCFA was concerned about the possible collateral damage that could occur. Punishments that had been proposed ranged from the revocation of UC’s Constitutional autonomy, to the loss of UC’s state funding. Ultimately, the legislature included language in the budget that did not have a hair trigger punishment. It requires UCOP to disclose all compensation policies and compensation paid to senior managers.
Privatization of UC:
We delivered a letter and printed copies of the UCPB Report on The Future of the University of California to members of the California Senate and Assembly sitting on education budget committees. The report (available here) details the dramatic decline of public funding for UC and shows how little it would cost the state to restore UC’s character as a publicly funded institution. In the cover letter accompanying the report, CUCFA President Bob Meister argued that the executive compensation scandal is a result of the privatization of UC, as are recent distortions of research, hiring and firing, and that privatization weakens UC’s historic ability to serve as an engine of greater social equality.
CUCFA was an early supporter of Matt’s Law (SB 1454, Torlakson) which makes hazing a crime with misdemeanor penalties for people or organizations who haze and felony penalties for hazing which results in death, or serious injury. It would also allow the person who was hazed to bring a civil action against the perpetrators of the hazing. We did ask that the proposed law be amended to reduce the scope of potential civil liability to those people who have day-to-day contact with the perpetrators. The bill was amended along those lines and eventually passed into law.
Other issues we followed:
In previous legislative updates we described Assemblymember Keith Richman’s ongoing efforts to force state employees, including UC employees, into defined contribution retirement plans instead of having a defined benefit option. Richman’s effort this year, ACA 23, died in the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security.
We have also previously described our opposition to “student bill of rights” proposals. This term had another attempt to pass such legislation (SB 1412, Morrow) that died on its way to the Senate Committee on Education.
A proposal to create an Office of Intellectual Property (AB 2721, Mullin), which could have further complicated the already contentious issue of intellectual property in its attempt to maximize financial return to the state, died in the Senate Committee of Governmental Organization.