Budget Conference Committee Letter

On June 4th, Joe Kiskis, CUCFA VP of External Relations, sent the following letter to the ten members of budget conference committee:

June 4, 2009

Assemblymember Noreen Evans
Chair, Budget Conference Committee
fax 916-319-2107

Dear Assemblymember Evans,

California’s present economic, fiscal, and political difficulties present the people of the state and their leaders with a range of very unappealing options. While there are no good choices, there is considerable latitude within the range of unpleasant possibilities. Those options which will do the least long term damage and best position the state to prosper when recovery begins are most desirable. As one of the world’s greatest producers of creativity and innovation, The University of California is crucial to long term development in California.

To close the gap between our aspirations for California and our means to fund them, we must address the structural problem of falling inflation-adjusted per-capita revenues. This will require a realignment of revenue sources and, much more importantly, a general increase in productivity and prosperity. The long term foundation for increased productivity and prosperity is education — both K-12 and higher education. An analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California has demonstrated that the number of college educated citizens that California produces is insufficient for the needs of its economy. While it may not be possible to begin to reverse that fact this year, we should avoid making it worse. Additionally, education, and especially public higher education, has a special role to play in reversing the very unfortunate trend toward widening income disparities in California.

Within the education sector, the University of California has the special role of both providing an excellent education to students and additionally producing research results that are the foundation of innovation, increasing economic productivity, and prosperity. We recognize that the University, along with all state assisted enterprises, will need to accept some funding reductions this year. However, even before the present severe difficulties, the University had absorbed a 40% reduction in inflation adjusted, per student state support. In this sense, it has already done its part to reduce state spending. If the fundamental health of the University is preserved, it will also be able to continue its role of being an essential contributor to long term solutions for California.

During the higher education discussions in the Budget Conference Committee on Monday, June 1, there were some who spoke of teaching and research as if they were distinct and competing activities within the University. In fact, research and learning are inextricably woven into one fabric at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels. Participation in research and collaboration with faculty and other more experienced researchers challenges students at all levels to do their deepest thinking, to push themselves the hardest, and to be the most creative. The ultimate value-added of the University of California is the creativity of it graduates. It is creativity born in research that drives innovation, increased productivity, and a prosperous economy. The University of California is unmatched in the number of creative graduates it produces.

Joe Kiskis
CUCFA Vice President for External Relations,
and Professor of Physics, UC Davis

cc: Members of the Budget Conference Committee

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