Regents Discuss Proposed Budget

This story was written by Angelica Dongallo, Daily Californian
The UC Board of Regents debated Thursday possible ways of handling cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that would leave the university with $417.4 million less than they had asked of the state.

Schwarzenegger's 2008-09 budget, released earlier this month, suggested a 10 percent budget cut from all state agencies as a response to the state's $14.5 billion deficit.

The university, while guaranteed $222.3 million additional funds as per a compact with the state, is scheduled to see a $331.9 million cut in their overall budget if the governor's plan passes.

At their board meeting in UCLA, the regents resolved to do further research on the impact of any budget cuts and to seek more financial support from the state and federal governments.

Officials said the research is necessary to remove the budget's burden from the university's constituents.

"If not, these kinds of budget cuts that you're looking at are going to have to be inflicted, in some way or another," said UC President Robert Dynes.

Katherine Lapp, executive vice president for business operations, presented "worst-case scenario" ways the university could scale back if additional state funds are not found, such as lowering enrollment rates and increasing student fees.

Students could see a seven percent increase in the educational fee and a 10 percent increase in the registration fee in 2008-09, resulting in a $490 increase for a resident undergraduate and a $546 increase for a resident graduate academic student. An additional 3 percent increase in the educational fee is also being discussed, which would bring in an additional $25.3 million for the university.

Some students told the board that it should take students' opinions into account when considering fee increases.

"We know you don't like raising fees but we're not even part of the consultation. Sometimes I feel like it's falling on deaf ears because the problem is we're continuing to see these fee increases," said Louise Hendrickson, UC Students Association president.

Another option available to the regents is to cut enrollment at its campuses, a decision that would have to be made before the first UC Riverside acceptance letters are sent out in February, said Wyatt R. Hume, the university's acting chief operating officer and executive vice president for academic and health affairs.

Some regents opposed the suggestion.

"Cutting enrollment growth is not an option for the university," said Regent Frederick Ruiz. "We would be destroying the future California."

Lapp also suggested possible cuts to administrative practices in the Office of the President, with several regents agreeing with the recommendation.

"Anything that is not within our core mission of education, I think we just need to look at," said Regent Russell Gould. "That clearly means we need to work on the administrative areas."

A resolution authored by Lt. Gov. John Garamendi aimed at freezing fee increases was also set to be considered by the regents but was revoked by Garamendi, saying that he would wait until the next meeting in March to present the issue.

"I promise all of you that I'm not about to let (the resolution) die, but it's not timely at this point," he said.

Many regents said they could not begin making decisions until additional information is presented in March.

"The only thing I'm certain of is that we will have to make some really difficult choices before this budget is over," Gould said.
© 2008 Daily Californian via U-WIRE