11 July 2009

Just when you thought it could not get any worse ...

Well, President Yudof has sent a proposal to the University Regents outlining his plan to implement measures to close the $800M and change budget shortfall. The announced 8% salary cut is there, although it is now (i) more finely graduated by salary level (from 4% for those earning less than $40K to 10% for those earning $240K and above), and (ii) implemented in the form of furloughs rather than straight salary cuts.

Furloughs are better than salary cuts since they preserve the salary base and are easier to reverse in the future. They are also more likely to have a lesser impact on the retirement system, especially for those planning to retire in the near future.

In the meantime, the NYT points out how State funding for the University only increased by 2% between 2001 and 2008, at a time when enrollment grew by 30%. In fact, state funding per student decreased by about 40% over the last 10-15 years. By comparison, funding for state prison, K-12 Ed and health and human services has grown by 40%, in the same years.

This has been a long time coming. The State has consistently worked at gutting what was arguably the world's finest public system of higher education for a long, long time. Whichever party the Governor hailed form, the University budget was cut in bad times and kept steady in good times. This is the result.

The California Professor is admittedly surpised that people are taking all this laying down and not making a bigger deal of it (as well as of course the other cuts in State funding to support for health care, instruction, etc.) It was a given in California that the best students could expect to receive a world-class education at bargain-basement prices — not any more. Tuition will go up (again), the number of admitted students will go down, classes will be more crowded, time to graduation will be longer.

A rather depressing thought on an otherwise glorious day here in the Golden State.

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