Council of UC Faculty Associations Legislative Update

The state legislature is in full swing, and, because of the current state budget situation, CUCFA’s efforts this spring have been focused on Sacramento. Since state revenue has declined significantly this year, the Governor has proposed 10% across the board cuts for 2008-9 for all state-funded programs. For UC this would be a cut of $98.5 million relative to this year’s budget, or $331 million less than UC would normally have gotten under the “compact” – an agreement between UCOP and the Governor in which neither UC faculty nor legislators in Sacramento had input. Among other things, the compact includes money to pay for the 5,000 students in expanded enrollment that UC is expected to accept in 2008-09.

Because the Governor’s budget also excluded certain requests made in the UC proposed budget – such as buying out the student fee increase proposed for this year – the Governor’s proposed budget is, in total, $417.4 million lower than the funding requested by UC.

CUCFA believes that, given UC’s perilous fiscal condition, these latest proposed cuts would be devastating. UC’s current situation is a result of systematic underfunding by the state for the past several years under the compact.

This historic underfunding was documented in a report produced by the Academic Senate’s University Committee on Planning & Budget called “Current Budget Trends and the Future of the University of California.” CUCFA distributed that report to the press and to legislators when it was released. The Committee on Planning & Budget has now created an update that details the impact of the Governor’s proposed cuts, and CUCFA will be distributing the update to the press and legislature, as well as posting a link to it on our website.

CUCFA officers have already made two trips to the Capitol to meet with legislators or their staff, and are currently planning to go again on April 7. Several of the meetings related to Lt. Governor John Garamendi’s “grand education coalition” – a unified front of administrators, faculty, and staff at UC, CSU, and the community colleges, all working to restore California’s higher education to healthy levels of funding that don’t require outrageous fee increases and other moves toward privatization. For the April 7 meetings, CUCFA has prepared a position paper called “How to Restore the Promise,” which is available here.

In addition, we continue our regular tracking of legislation of interest to faculty. Many of the bills have aimed to reduce student fee increases. CUCFA has taken a support position on one of these bills – AB 2372 by Assemblymember Coto – because it included a funding source rather than freezing fees without making up for the lost revenue in UC’s budget. Another bill – AB 2722 by Assemblymember Duvall – would require UC set fees for four years for each incoming cohort of students. CUCFA is waiting to take a position on this bill as it is being rewritten to clarify its intent.

CUCFA is supporting Senator Yee’s SB 1370, legislation that would prohibit faculty from being disciplined in acting to protect a student engaged in conduct authorized by a state “freedom of speech” law. We are also supporting Senator Yee’s SB 1696, which would prevent UC from claiming that information that should be released under the California Public Records Act could not be released because they had signed a non-disclosure agreement with a contractor. Yee felt this legislation was necessary because in January of 2008 the San Francisco Chronicle submitted a CPRA request to UCSF for a copy of an independent audit of the school’s finances. UCSF denied the request claiming that the contract between UCSF and the private auditing firm (whom UC refused to name) required the latter’s consent before the report could be shared (eventually, UCSF released both the name of the firm and the report).

CUCFA will continue these efforts, and will continue to distribute updates periodically.

Joe Kiskis,
CUCFA Vice President, External Relations

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