The University of California Board of Regents heard a report today (March 29) on UC's efforts to secure a framework for a multi-year funding plan with the state, including administrators' efforts to avoid a tuition increase in the coming year.
UC officials have been in talks with Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature about developing a multi-year plan that could restore some stability to UC finances and provide certainty to students and their families that college costs would remain moderate and affordable.
Dan Dooley, senior vice president for external relations for UC, told the Regents that there is no agreement yet, but that he remains optimistic.
He said it was important that any framework include a tuition policy that is "reasonable, predictable and includes the possibility of a buy-out," Dooley said. "We have been talking explicitly about a buyout of a 2012-2013 tuition increase."
Earlier in the day, protesters disrupted the meeting at UCSF Mission Bay, shouting down attempts by the Regents to move past the public comment period. Police eventually cleared the room and arrested three people from UCLA (See UCSF statement).
Once the meeting got underway, the Regents discussed UC's budget for fiscal 2012-2013, talked about the tentative framework for a multi-year plan and weighed in on UC President Mark Yudof's Wednesday announcement that he will come back to them with a recommendation that they endorse Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax initiative.
The measure would raise several billion dollars for education and other state services. The revenue would come from a temporary sales tax increase of a quarter-cent per dollar and from a temporary surcharge on the income tax of those who earn more than $250,000 per year. Brown's initiative still needs to qualify for the November ballot.
Yudof reiterated his personal support for the initiative today.
Patrick Lenz, vice president of budget and capital resources at UC, told the Regents that if the measure fails, UC would likely face a $200 million mid-year trigger cut from the state.
Regent Richard Blum was among the Regents expressing their personal support for the measure, saying UC's academic mission cannot sustain further cuts. Other Regents expressed concern that the initiative does not earmark funding for higher education specifically.
The University has been grappling with unpredictable and declining state funding for more than a decade. In 2011, the state cut UC funds by $750 million, a 25 pecent decline. UC today receives the same level of state funding as it did in 1997-98, even though the University system now has 73,000 more students and an additional campus.
UC administrators are working on several strategies for coping with the budget gap, including development of the multi-year funding plan with the state. They also are implementing a range of administrative efficiencies and are working to develop new sources of revenue, including boosting private donations.
Dooley told the Regents that campus foundations have been very effective in the last year, but that private giving alone cannot meet UC's budget needs.