Public universities may get $500 million more than last year under proposed spending plan. Campus officials are ‘very pleased’ but note that funding remains substantially lower than before the recession.

By Larry Gordon and Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times
October 7, 2010

In an otherwise gloomy state budget deal, California’s two public university systems emerged as rare winners, garnering significant infusions of extra revenue, officials said Wednesday. The additional money for UC and Cal State, combined with previously announced federal stimulus funds, is expected to help restore some classes and hire professors.

“We are very pleased at this point,” said Patrick Lenz, vice president for budget of the 10-campus University of California system.

Charles B. Reed, chancellor of the 23-campus California State University system, said in a statement: “We appreciate the commitment by the governor and the Legislature to reinvest in higher education.”

However, administrators at UC and Cal State emphasized that the budget deal, which must be approved by the Legislature, would not necessarily shield students from further fee hikes next year. They said it was too early to predict what the impact on fees might be.

The budget plan made public Monday would provide each system with $199 million more than last year in state general funds for operating costs. Although some details are still being reviewed, both universities also are expected to receive state funding to support student enrollment: about $51.3 million for UC and about $60.6 million for Cal State. About $14 million more is expected to help with UC employee retirement costs.

Last month, officials announced that UC and Cal State each will receive $106 million in federal stimulus funds.

Even with the new state and federal dollars, overall funding for the two university systems will remain lower than three years ago. But campuses anticipate some relief after several years of reduced enrollments and difficulty for students trying to get into courses they need for graduation.

“We will be able to hire faculty and be able to provide additional course sections,” UC’s Lenz said.

Cal State had already announced that it would use the federal stimulus money to admit as many as 10,000 new students for winter and spring terms, as well as restore about 3,000 course sections.

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