UC system gets temporary boost from new state budget and federal stimulus dollars

After facing years of state budget cuts, the University of California’s higher education system will see an increase in funding in the state’s 2010-2011 budget agreed to by the California legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger. The budget allocates $2.9 billion dollars and will fund nearly half of the University’s core programming, $371 million of which will be used to cover the funding cuts UC has taken during the past three years. Of the $371 million, $260 million will come from the state and $106 million from federal stimulus dollars.  The budget also includes $353 million for capital projects including dollars to provide more classrooms and to invest in building upgrades to meet seismic safety needs. 

The UC system made headlines earlier this year with its 32 percent increase in student tuition, igniting protests on many UC campuses. While the boost in funding does not guarantee that tuition will not rise again next year, it will ensure Cal Grants are still available for students to apply for (the Governor eliminated Cal Grants in his original budget), lower interest rates on those Cal Grant loans, and the end to furlough days for students and teachers.  Other highlights from the UC budget include: 

$51.3 million to support 5,121 unfunded students. (The state does not fund more than 16,000 students currently enrolled in the UC system) 

$10 million for startup funding for the UC Riverside Medical School 

$2 million for the UC PRIME medical education programs at Davis, Irvine, San Francisco, UCLA and San Diego to train physicians to work in underserved communities 

$1.7 million for increasing nursing student enrollment, from entry-level clinical care training to doctoral programs 

$14 million for increases in retiree health benefit costs  

However, the UC’s are being encouraged to be cautious. While the state has restored some of its cuts from the past, it is only a one-time investment. The UC system still faces a one billion dollar budget deficit. Moreover, the outcome of the November gubernatorial race may result in a revisiting of the budget mid-year that could force UCs to give the money it has been allocated back to the state.  

Of course the UC investment comes as a steep price. The 2010-2011 budget cut $256 million in subsidized child care for low-income Californians, putting 30,000 to 55,000 California families at risk of losing child care beginning November 1.  The budget also cuts $133 million for mental health care and $66 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment causing serious concern among health care advocates and advocates for low-income Californians.