About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms of Use
Best Quotes
Guest Commentary
Who Am I?
Monthly Archives

May 17, 2004

Govnah Ahnold Announces Latest Budget Revisions

FROM GOVNAH AHNOLD IN SACRAMENTO comes the latest of many days of reckoning in the sad saga of the budget crisis in our most populous state.

Announced this week were the latest revisions to the painful budget cuts needed to bring sanity back to state spending. The Governor kept his earlier promise of no new cuts for the higher education, so administrators of the University of California and California State University systems breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Better yet, Gov. Schwarzenegger actually cut the amount of cuts previously earmarked for higher education. Under the revised budget, state funds for the University of California will be cut by $210 million, or 7.2%. This is $20 million less than previously proposed.

The Cal State system will now have a reduction of $240 million, or 9%. This is $620,000 less than previously recommended.

Everything about California is jumbo. State spending for the 2004-05 fiscal year will be $99 billion. For purposes of comparison, California’s state budget is greater than the budgets of following 26 countries combined: Algeria, Albania, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Tanzania, Uruguay, Vietnam, Libya, Paraguay and Mali.

Out of the entire $99 billion budget, there is projected to be a whopping $14 billion deficit.

Here’s the latest on the effects to the state’s two university systems:

Graduate tuition: the previous 40% increase was halved to 20% for grad students at the University of California and those pursuing teaching credentials at Cal State. Other Cal State graduate students will have a 25% increase.

Undergraduate tuition: at both university systems, there will be a 14% increase for in-state students. For out-of-state undergraduates, there will be a 20% increase, and for community-college students, rates will rise by 44%.

Tuition for community-college students already holding a bachelor's degree: the revised budget calls for $50 per credit hour, up from the current rate of $18.

• Enrollment reductions: the number of new freshmen at four-year institutions would be reduced by 10%, about 7000 students over all, in 2004-05.

As is often the case, the give-and-take and quid pro quo of governmental compromises is taking place big time in this budget battle. By offering guaranteed givebacks to the two university systems in future years, Gov. Schwarzenegger has won the begrudging support of university leaders for the deep cuts in 2004-05.

State funds for the two university systems are slated for a 3% increase in 2005-06 and 2006-07, and 4% annually from 2007-08 through 2010-11.

"After years of deep budget cuts with no end in sight, this compact brings the promise of renewed fiscal stability for public universities in California," said Robert Dynes, president of the University of California system.

Hmm. That’s a graciously conciliatory statement coming from a guy who has just had $210 million dollars cut from his budget.

Meanwhile, detractors claim that the governor is mortgaging the state’s fiscal future for a quick fix next year.

Said the governor, in his best HollywoodSpeak, "I have an overall plan. This is just a small part. I cannot give you the whole plan today, because this is like seeing a movie in the beginning and then giving them the end. It's the wrong thing to do. So I'm laying out a nice script, a nice James Cameron script, with a great, great ending."

Sounds good. We’ll see.

(this 573 excerpt—with corresponding commentary—was distilled from a 859 word article in the Chronicle of Higher Education of 5-12-04, a 654 word article in the Chronicle of Higher Education of 5-17-04, a 1383 word article in the Los Angeles Times of 5-13-04, a 354 word article in the Los Angeles Times of 5-12-04 and the 2003 edition of the New York Times Almanac)