Last Tuesday Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders reached an agreement on a $125 billion budget deal that includes a provision they claim will strip UCOP of much of its financial independence. The move comes in response to the blistering audit of the office Janet Napolitano leads as UC’s president. According to the audit, UC had been concealing funds and carrying out misleading accounting techniques, though UCOP has refuted the audit’s characterization. Under previous funding schemes, UCOP was funded by assessing fees on the system’s campuses. Under the new deal, the state will reshuffle the money it typically gave to campuses in order to fund UCOP by handing the money directly to the office. In total, the state will give UCOP $296.4 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The office will also receive $52.4 million for UC Path, a troubled HR system. The state promises to withhold $50 million if UCOP doesn’t implement a number of changes. According to a summary document:
…to withhold $50 million General Fund from UC until UC provides evidence to the Department of Finance by May 1, 2018 that it has completed pilot programs of activity-based costing at the Riverside campus and at two other campuses in three departments each; taken actions to attempt to attain a ratio at each of its campuses, except for the Merced and San Francisco campuses, of at least one entering transfer student for every two entering freshman students beginning in the 2018-19 academic year; taken actions directed by the California State Auditor in its audit report “Report 2016-130,” dated April 25, 2017, regarding the University of California Office of the President, adopted a policy that prohibits supplemental retirement payments for new senior managers, and provided information on the Office of the President budget to the Legislature.
In other news, media coverage highlighted the recent revelation that Gov. Brown appears to be skirting the law in his approach to nominating UC regents. In an editorial, the San Francisco Chronicle notes the state constitution says the governor “shall consult an advisory committee” when selecting regents, a practice Gov. Brown and other recent state leaders have failed to follow through on. The editorial argues:
This oversight failure has had a negative outcome on the regents board. The 18 appointed regents fit a specific profile: wealthy executives, financiers or attorneys. Considering this narrow milieu, some of their recent tone-deaf decisions, like charging the university thousands of dollars for pricey parties and dinners, make more sense. But it’s inappropriate behavior in a state with high poverty rates and a struggling middle class. These are precisely the kinds of reasons why voters want more public accountability — as they decided in 1974.
6/13 – New state budget deal punishes UC President’s Office (SFGate): The article also notes that the deal preserves the Middle Class Scholarship program, which Gov. Brown had suggested be scrapped.
6/14 – State budget would put limits on University of California (AP): The article notes that UCOP opposes the change, saying any such move should come from the regents, which govern the system, and not the Legislature.
6/14 – Cal State University to guarantee qualified students a spot under California budget deal (OCRegister): The policy is similar to one in place at UC, where qualified students denied entry at one campus are given a spot at another campus. Currently, that other campus is UC Merced, the system’s newest and least-selective campus.
6/12 – Editorial: Follow the law, Gov. Brown (SFChronicle):
6/13 – Critics say UC board is latest proof that Gov. Brown ignores the Valley (ModBee): The article notes that no one from the state’s Central Valley is on the board of Regents, a situation that has drawn criticism from San Joaquin leaders:
“This is another example of the governor essentially dismissing Central California as a flyover area,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno. “It’s inexplicable to me to have the region utterly ignored like this, with an appointment of this magnitude. It raises all kinds of questions about whether this region is really getting its due.”