UC Faculty and Alumni Must Step Up

You can learn a lot by visiting California’s e-budget website:

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For example, 11 years ago in the state’s 2007–8 fiscal year, California’s Legislature and governor awarded $3.3 billion to the University of California, which amounted to 3.2 percent of General Fund spending that year. This year UC was awarded $3.7 billion, just 13 percent more even though General Fund spending is 36 percent higher. As a result, UC’s share of the General Fund has fallen to 2.67 percent, 16 percent less than in 2007–8.

With a bit more digging, one could learn that over the same 11 year period, legislators and the governor boosted General Fund spending on health insurance subsidies for retired state employees — including those already covered by Medicare or entitled to Affordable Care Act subsidies — by 123 percent, to $2.5 billion. As a result, the share of the General Fund allocated to those subsidies grew 65 percent.

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General Fund spending on UC is neither constitutionally protected nor an entitlement. Allocations to it are at the discretion of the legislature and governor. Because the discretionary pool from which UC is funded is only the small amount left over after the General Fund has discharged its constitutional, entitlement and other legal obligations, funding for UC is disproportionately harmed whenever the legislature and governor elect to use discretionary funds elsewhere. For example, when the legislature and governor elect to award a salary increase to prison guards (who have received four such increases since 2010) or fail to rein in spending on insurance subsidies, the cost falls disproportionately on UC and other discretionary programs.

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For decades UC supporters have whined about declining state support but have not organized to do something about it. That’s why UC has lost ground. Prison guards and retired government employees are aggressive in donating to elected state officials. UC alumni and faculty are not.

UC supporters can help UC by making direct donations to state legislators or to committees that support legislators who support UC. GFC bundles such donations and operates and charters such committees but we would also be happy to provide guidance to those of you who would like to set up your own bundling operations or committees. If just one percent of the alumni of a single UC campus donated just $100 each to a committee that donates to members of the state legislature, it would be among the largest political committees in Sacramento. All we ask is that UC alumni and faculty start treating the war for state support of UC as seriously as do others battling for General Fund spending.

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