How To Save the University of California

For the 2016–17 fiscal year that commences July 1, California Governor Jerry Brown has asked the State Legislature to allocate $3.4 billion to the University of California. $3.4 billion might sound like a lot of money but it’s just 10 percent more than the amount UC received from the state a decade ago, even though the 2016–17 General Fund from which UC is funded by the state will be nearly 25 percent larger and UC will host 50,000 more students. As a result, UC’s share of the state General Fund will be 15 percent lower than a decade ago, even though UC’s student population will be more than 20 percent larger.

UC is getting less of the state budget because healthcare, salary, pension and other retirement costs are getting more of the state budget. Even a temporary tax increase enacted in 2012 didn’t help. Worse, weak state support for UC occurred despite a six-year bull market that produced robust state revenues. That means the negative consequences for UC will be even greater when stock markets and state revenues cool. The same is true for California State University, social services, courts and parks.

To generate additional revenue, UC admitted more out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition. But — Catch-22 — UC was attacked for doing so by the very same legislature that passed the budget that forced UC to look for additional revenue.

As explained here, it is your California Legislature that determines budgets. Don’t blame state employees, retirees, healthcare corporations or unions. They are no different than other businesses and unions that seek to maximize revenue from governments. Instead, blame the legislators who approve the budgets—and then do something about it through effective political philanthropy, as explained here.

There’s only one way to seriously help UC: Political philanthropists must support state legislators who — by their actions, not just their words* — support UC even when it means crossing powerful special interests. After this November, there will be no open State Assembly seats again until 2024. The time to act is now.

*Beware state legislators who support UC in words but not in deeds. Many incumbent state legislators claim they support UC but vote differently. Check their voting records.

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