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UC System Braced For Deep Cuts To Budget

This story was written by Asaf Shalev, Daily Californian

With state legislators ending the longest budget impasse in state history, UC officials say they are not expecting further cuts to the university's budget.

Still, the UC system faces a net cut of $232.4 million, assuming that the UC budget remains the same as proposed in May. Additionally, the university continues to have rising annual costs.

"Because we are not receiving funding for student enrollment growth and inflation related costs, our campuses will have to reduce costs by $105 million," said UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

In May, the UC Board of Regents voted for a UC system-wide educational fee increase of 7 percent and a registration fee increase of 10 percent for 2008-09 to offset proposed cuts included in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revised budget.

While state legislators have reached an agreement on the budget, campus officials are not sure how much money will be allocated to UC Berkeley.

State funds, allocated through the university, provided $569 million out of the campus's total $1.7 billion revenue for 2006-07. State funds are generally used for the campus's basic operations, including most faculty salaries and a significant amount of staff salaries.

Last year's data is not yet available, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore. She said it is unclear how much UC Berkeley's revenue will change this year.

"We will not know the outcome until the state budget is signed and (the UC Office of the President) and the regents make UC systemwide decisions based on the new budget," Gilmore said in an e-mail.

Although the state faces a huge budget shortage of roughly $16 billion this year, there has been a long trend of increasing fees and decreasing state contributions to the UC system.

In 1990, student fees contributed 13 percent of the university's per-student expenditure while state funds and other sources covered the rest, according to Vazquez. In 2007-08, student fees accounted for 30 percent of the per-student expenditure, he said.

Despite the cuts to the budget, Vazquez said the university will continue admitting qualified applicants.

"We received a record number of statements of intent to register this year," Vazquez said. "We kept our promise to accept all eligible students."

Vazquez added that the office of the president was able to effectively cut $28 million in costs this year by reorganizing office structure.

The UC system is not alone in facing reduced state funds as a percentage of total revenue.

At the University of Texas 25 years ago, state funds provided 45 percent of the budget, according to Matt Flores, a spokesperson for the UT system. This year, state funds were only 16.6 percent of the $11.7 billion revenue, he said.

"State funding has not kept up with growth," he said. "We have to look to other means to keep our institution affordable and accessible."

The state legislature must now approve the California budget before it moves to Schwarzenneger for a final vote.

On Thursday at UC Irvine, the UC Regents are set to approve the 2008-09 UC budget, assuming that the governor passes the newly approved state budget.

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