July 18, 2012
A little-known fact about the $91.3 billion state General Fund budget that took effect on July 1 is that it’s primarily a local budget, with the vast majority of state dollars flowing to local communities.
More than 70 cents out of every state dollar goes toward “local assistance.” This includes support for public schools and community colleges, financial aid for low-income college students, and cash assistance and services for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Local assistance funding also goes to doctors who provide health care through the Medi-Cal Program, which serves millions of low-income children, parents, and seniors.
The other big category of state spending – accounting for more than 25 cents out of every state dollar – is known as “state operations.” Much of this funding also flows to local communities, including support for the 33 campuses of the California State University and the University of California, 33 state prisons, veterans services, state parks, and environmental protection.
State dollars play an important role in strengthening local economies and creating a high quality of life. So all Californians have a stake in our state budget and in helping ensure that our state’s finances are on solid footing.
– Scott Graves
November 25, 2009
Gaining admission to California’s public universities is becoming more difficult. Not only are the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) increasing student fees in response to state budget cuts, they are also reducing enrollment. The decisions to cut enrollments come at a time when applications to the UC and CSU are increasing.
Last week, the UC President proposed cutting 2010-11 freshman enrollment by 2,300 students if the UC does not receive an increase in state funding. The proposal follows a reduction of 2,300 to freshman enrollment made in 2009-10. The decision to reduce UC enrollment comes after two years of increasing freshman applications to the UC. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of California freshman applicants increased by nearly 6,900 (9.3 percent). This increase in applications, coupled with enrollment reductions, has made it more difficult for Californians to gain admission to the UC: 72.5 percent of California freshman applicants were admitted to the UC this fall, compared to 77.5 percent in the fall of 2007.
The CSU also is planning to reduce enrollment. By the spring of 2010, the CSU plans to enroll 10,000 fewer students and the system projects a total enrollment reduction of 40,000 students over the next two years – a cut of approximately 9 percent. This reduction is likely to make it more difficult to gain admission to the CSU, especially given recent increases in applications. Between the fall of 2007 and 2008, freshman applicants to the CSU increased by more than 12,600 (8.4 percent), and the admission rate dropped from 76.1 percent to 68.8 percent.
Recent budget cuts to higher education call into question the state’s commitment to provide its residents with access to a high-quality, affordable college education. In the absence of additional funding, not only will fewer Californians have the opportunity to earn a college degree at the state’s public universities, but the state’s employers may have an even tougher time finding the highly skilled workers they need to compete successfully in the global economy.
– Jonathan Kaplan
September 24, 2009
As students head back to class at the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU), concern over cuts and fees is on the rise. Today’s walkout at the UC comes as increases in fees – which do not include expenses such as room, board, and books – will make affording college challenging for many California students and their families.
Last week’s proposal to increase UC student fees comes less than five months after the last round of fee increases. If the proposal is approved, undergraduate fees for UC students who are California residents would increase to $10,302 in 2010-11, 44.6 percent more than what undergraduates paid just last year. If the UC’s Board of Regents approves the current proposal, fees will be more than three times higher than they were in 1990-91, after adjusting for inflation.
In July, the CSU increased 2009-10 undergraduate fees for California residents to $4,026, 32.1 percent more than students paid in 2008-09. The CSU’s latest round of fee increases comes after a 10 percent fee hike in both 2007-08 and 2008-09. Inflation-adjusted CSU fees have more than tripled over the past 20 years.
To compound matters, UC and CSU faculty furloughs and other budget cutting measures mean students will pay more for less. CSU faculty will work two fewer days per month, which translates into a 9.2 percent pay cut. The majority of faculty and staff at the UC are required to take from 11 to 26 furlough days this year resulting in a four to 10 percent reduction depending on a faculty member’s salary. The UC’s requirement that faculty furloughs not occur on instructional days may cause a professor to show up to class, but the increased workload likely will reduce the quality of education students receive. Recent budget cuts have severely tarnished what was once a central part of the California dream – access to a high-quality, affordable college education.
– Jonathan Kaplan