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October 19, 1998

Budget plan provides for growing enrollment, better facilities, and quality education

By Brad Hayward
UC Office of the President

UC President Richard C. Atkinson unveiled a 1999-2000 budget plan last week that seeks to accommodate 4,000 additional students, keep mandatory systemwide student fees level, protect the quality of instruction and research programs, and pursue new library and technology initiatives.

The plan, presented to the Board of Regents in San Francisco, also includes a budget of $208 million for capital improvement projects, dependent upon voter approval of Proposition 1A on the Nov. 3 statewide ballot. The $9.2 billion bond measure includes $6.7 billion for K-12 schools and $2.5 billion for higher education facilities over a four-year period.

Proposition 1A would fund facilities projects at all nine UC campuses and initial development of the university's planned 10th campus at Merced. Bond proceeds would be used to strengthen UC buildings against earthquakes, renovate aging classroom and laboratory buildings, and modernize outdated infrastructure. The bond measure also would fund construction of new facilities to help accommodate the 45,000 additional students expected to enroll at UC by 2010 (see related UCSC story).

"The Board of Regents strongly supports Proposition 1A," said board Chairman John Davies. "We believe that providing safe and modern facilities is crucial to maintaining the University of California's high-quality academic programs and to providing the next generation of Californians with access to a UC education."

The operating budget plan presented to the Regents requests a 5.8 percent, $189 million increase in state and UC general funds over 1998-99. UC's state-funded budget is proposed to increase $144 million, or 5.7 percent, and would total $2.7 billion under the plan, which the Regents will consider adopting at their November meeting.

"The goals of our proposed budget are California's goals--to educate a growing and diverse population, prepare young people for a knowledge-based economy, and find answers to some of the most pressing problems faced by our society," Atkinson said.

Mandatory systemwide student fees for resident undergraduates will remain level under the budget plan, consistent with AB 1318, approved last year by the governor and Legislature. The budget document also requests $3.5 million in state funding to offset the loss created by a proposed 5 percent reduction in resident graduate student fees, as called for in SB 1896, a bill recently signed by the governor. Under that legislation, the replacement funding must be provided in order for the graduate student fee reduction to occur in fall 1999.

The 4,000-student enrollment increase in the budget plan includes 800 additional students in engineering and computer science, fields that UC has targeted for enrollment growth to address state workforce needs. It also includes 200 additional students to be enrolled in a UC program enabling students to earn a teaching credential over two summers.

The budget plan provides funding for adjustments in salary levels and merit increases for eligible faculty and staff as part of an effort to maintain competitive salaries. Salary increases are subject to collective bargaining requirements where applicable.

New initiatives in the budget document include a multi-year plan to bolster the university's libraries; a major technology project to accelerate campus access to Internet2, the next-generation electronic highway; partial restoration of funding cut in the early 1990s from the university's Cooperative Extension programs, which provide important services to California farmers; expansion of the Industry-University Cooperative Research Program, which fosters collaborative research in fields critical to the state's economy; and development of a center providing researchers and educators with access to data being collected on California's environment through remote sensing technology.

The budget plan also requests additional state funding for deferred maintenance, instructional technology and instructional equipment. If the state's fiscal condition permits, UC will request that one-time funding granted in 1998-99 for these critical programs be continued.

After receiving a major increase in the 1998-99 state budget for outreach programs, UC will spend an anticipated $137 million on these high-priority efforts to improve the academic performance of K-12 and community college students and encourage their pursuit of a university education.

Planning for UC Merced also continues under the new budget plan, which calls for $10 million in operating funds for the 10th campus. Proposition 1A is anticipated to provide $55 million for initial infrastructure and facilities construction at Merced, beginning in 2000-01.

Proposition 1A would fund 21 capital projects at UC in 1999-2000 alone, and more than 70 such projects over four years. Supporters of the measure include the California Taxpayers' Association, California Chamber of Commerce and California Teachers Association. The ballot pamphlet argument opposing Proposition 1A was signed by People's Advocate Inc., the National Tax Limitation Committee and Assemblyman Tom McClintock, who maintain that the measure is too large and would obligate too much of the state budget for debt service.

Atkinson emphasized that most UC facilities projects planned for the coming years are contingent upon Proposition 1A, and the measure still will only fund about half of the university's annual capital outlay needs. In addition to making critical seismic improvements and modernizing obsolete facilities, UC would use Proposition 1A funds to construct several major buildings housing programs in the sciences, which constitute a significant research and economic development engine for the state.

"The University of California makes an important contribution to the state's economic vitality through its research initiatives and its educational programs for an increasingly knowledge-based workforce," Atkinson said. "To support this public service, I believe we must upgrade and expand our facilities as enrollments grow and as technologies and academic programs evolve."

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