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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 5:42 am | Fair 42º


UCSB’s Chancellor Outlines Ripple Effects from Proposed Budget Cuts

For the first time in university history, tuition will surpass the state's contribution

In an e-mail sent to the campus community Wednesday, UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang outlined how Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget cuts might affect the university.

Brown announced in January that he would take a mixed approach to making up the state’s $26.6 billion budget deficit. In addition to asking for tax extensions, he called for large cuts to Medi-Cal, welfare, and the University of California and California State University systems. Last week, Brown signed bills that enacted those cuts, eliminating $11.2 billion from the budget deficit.

But the tax extensions are on hold — at least for now. Brown announced Tuesday that he had called off talks with Republicans in the Legislature. He was seeking their votes to place a ballot measure before voters this summer. The measures would have asked voters to approve an extension of income, sale and vehicles license taxes that are already in place.

The governor has warned that cuts to education would go even deeper if the ballot measures are not approved by voters.

Closer to home, Yang’s letter painted a bleak picture of the situation. For the first time in UCSB’s history, student tuition will surpass the state’s contribution.

“Over the past 20 years, state support for per-student educational costs at UC has fallen 57 percent, adjusting for inflation,” Yang wrote. “These cuts take UC back to a level of state funding equivalent to 1998-99, when our university was serving 73,000 fewer students than the 235,000 enrolled today.”

Staff at the campus have been waiting to hear how the governor’s cuts would translate locally. UCSB’s original portion of the cuts amounted to nearly $40 million, but Yang said the UC Office of the President has said it will absorb some of the costs, leaving UCSB with a $35 million shortfall for this year.

UCSB already has seen a $116 million reduction in state funding during the past decade, Yang said. He thanked staff for the sacrifices they already have made.

“Our shared dedication to our university and our support for each other during these challenging times are a daily demonstration of the values that define us and make UC Santa Barbara such a special community,” he wrote.

Yang said he has met with the university’s Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy, which includes faculty and staff, and continues to meet with state legislators to stress the importance of the university.

On top of the $35 million in cuts, the campus also needs to address unfunded expenses such as increased employer contributions to pensions and benefits. Maintenance costs, faculty retention and replacements are also on that list.

Even though the size of the cuts weren’t known until Brown’s announcement in January, Yang said the school already has been working on cutting costs. Increased fundraising, energy savings and elimination of off-campus leases are some of the strategies Yang mentioned in his e-mail. Reductions in staff, primarily through retirements and attrition, and use of revenue from previously approved systemwide student fee increases also are listed.

“These and other actions are all aimed at cutting costs, using existing revenues efficiently and bringing in additional revenues,” he wrote.

Those and other measures would reduce the school’s budget gap for next year to about $7 million. Furloughs are not among the temporary measures the university is considering.

“While we will continue to explore ways of reducing this further, we know that additional permanent solutions in both budget reduction and revenue generation will be required for subsequent years,” Yang wrote.

More streamlining will need to occur, and the school’s Operational Effectiveness initiative will continue to evaluate campus departments. He said he school also seeks to draw international and out-of-state students to generate revenue, “while maintaining our commitment to enroll California students at the level funded by the state.”

Yang said nonresidents make up only 5 percent of UCSB’s undergraduate body, while other Association of American Universities public universities see an average of 25 percent in their freshman classes.

The school estimates that 575 in-state students currently enrolled are unfunded by the state.

“If we were to replace these 575 unfunded, in-state students — 3 percent of our total undergraduate population — with nonresident students, we would have an additional $12 million to help us close our budget gap,” Yang wrote.

They’ve reached out to students in California, but Yang, his wife and admissions counselors, faculty and staff are also reaching out to students and their families in Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago in order to recruit top non-resident students. 

“We are unwavering in our commitment to excellence and diversity, and to providing our students with the education they deserve,” he said, thanking the community for their efforts. “Together we will, once again, meet the challenges ahead.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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