In the current round of budget cuts in the California State Legislature, there is even more at risk for the students and staff of UC Santa Cruz. Both a proposal by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and a second proposal introduced by State Democrats in the legislature call for further cuts to the University of California.
Such cuts would amount to $28.7 million in reduced state funding to UCSC, according to a June 23 statement issued by Chancellor George Blumenthal and Campus Provost David Kliger.
Of the $28.7 million, an estimated $12.5 million is expected to be saved through salary reductions and furloughs, leaving UCSC administrators with $16 million in further cuts to make to the campus’ budget. These cuts will be in addition to the $13 million already cut from the budget for the upcoming school year.
“Community Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies was just part of round one,” said Matthew Palm, the Commissioner of Academic Affairs (CAA) for the Student Union Assembly (SUA), referring to the proposed cuts to both departments, which caused much controversy on campus in the spring. “If the cuts get bigger, you’ll be looking at even more controversial cuts. It could come down so fast and so sudden, it could be worse.”
The statement by Blumenthal and Kliger summarized the desperate circumstances now facing UCSC due to the state’s budget insolvency.
“The magnitude of the cuts we as a campus must make requires that we think and act differently,” the statement said. “Clearly, making these cuts will be a painful process and will require elimination and consolidation of programs, reductions in services, and an additional loss of personnel. We know the difficulty that layoffs will pose to some members of our campus community and their families, but additional layoffs seem unavoidable.”
To address this new round of cuts, Kliger is reportedly putting together a budget retreat with UCSC’s principal administrators to discuss where further cuts can be made.
This round of cuts will have further involvement from students, with CAA Palm and SUA Chair Kalwis Lo among those invited to take part in the retreat.
Palm was optimistic about the outcome of the retreat.
“We will hopefully get a real look at these cuts,” Palm said.
As of now, both state Democrats and Republicans have not yet reached a consensus on next year’s budget. Since a 2/3rds majority is needed to enact the proposed budgetary changes immediately, members from both sides of the aisle in the state Assembly and Senate will need to vote together to pass proposals.
Where does this situation leave the University of California?
Palm recalls a meeting he sat in on a few days ago. “One of the deans said, ‘There’s a chance we’re all going to be on vacation next week.’”
“If they don’t pass anything, everything’s going to shut down,” Palm continued. “We’re in the ultimate worst-case scenario. We can’t borrow to buy more time.”
Members of both the Assembly and Senate are expected to continue meeting over the coming days to find a plan that most everyone can agree on. The final impact this budget process will have on higher education remains to be seen.