After months of haggling over funding for California’s two public university systems, lawmakers Tuesday said they would push to increase spending by $50 million each for the University of California and California State University.
The state’s final 2014-15 budget plan included a provision to hike funding for the higher education systems if revenue from this year’s property taxes exceeded Gov. Jerry Brown’s estimates. The Department of Finance subsequently announced that those tax revenues were less than anticipated.
However, Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) said that revenue from corporate, income and other taxes are well above predictions and that some of those funds could be used to boost higher education.
“Last month’s Department of Finance announcement that property tax revenue did not exceed projections was a serious letdown for California higher education institutions,” Atkins said in a statement. “Fortunately, with general fund revenue ending 2013-14 nearly $400 million above projections, the Assembly is prepared to restore desperately needed funding to the UC and CSU.”
Much of the money would be earmarked for deferred maintenance and other expenses that accumulated over years of recession. Cal State says it has a backlog of about $1.8 billion in maintenance and repair needs at its 23 campuses.
“Funding for deferred maintenance was cut back drastically, so this would be very well-received,” said Cal State spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp.
A survey of UC’s 10 campuses identified more than $166.5 million in urgent needs and billions more for other priority projects, said spokeswoman Dianne Klein.
The $50-million boost would be in addition to the $142.2 million each Cal State and the UC are already set to receive.
Administration officials, however, cautioned against an increase.
“While the higher year-end tax revenues were good news, a new full assessment of the state’s finances-including mandatory higher costs such as for K-14 education and firefighting-will not be completed until January,” said Brown spokesman Jim Evans. “Therefore, it is premature to discuss expanding funding above the steady funding growth given to the universities in this year’s budget."
The additional funding is included as part of an amended Senate bill that will be considered by the Legislature this month.