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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

How Will Proposed Budget Cuts Impact The UC System?

Audio

Last month, Governor Jerry Brown proposed a $500 million dollar cut to both the UC and CSU systems. This could mean that for the first time in UC history, the students will be contributing more to the university budget than the state. Will this proposal affect students in the form of tuition increases, which have already climbed by 40% in the last 2 years? Listen ahead as we speak with Patrick Lenz, UC's Vice President for Budget & Capital Resources, and Wafa Ben Hassine, Associated Students President at UC San Diego, about the impact on students and San Diego.

Last month, Governor Jerry Brown proposed a $500 million dollar cut to both the UC and CSU systems. This could mean that for the first time in UC history, the students will be contributing more to the university budget than the state. Will this proposal affect students in the form of tuition increases, which have already climbed by 40% in the last 2 years? Listen ahead as we speak with Patrick Lenz, UC's Vice President for Budget & Capital Resources, and Wafa Ben Hassine, Associated Students President at UC San Diego, about the impact on students and San Diego.

Guests

Patrick Lenz, University of California's Vice President for Budget & Capital Resources

Wafa Ben Hassine, Associated Students President at UC San Diego

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: The UC system says it's one of the big losers in Governor Brown's plans to solve California's chronic budget problems, the UC system is facing the biggest proposed cut in its history. $500 million. Joining me to discuss how those cuts might be handled at the UC San Diego campus are my guests. Patrick Lenz is yesterday of California's vice president for Budget and Capital Resources. Good morning, Patrick.

LENZ: Good morning, how are you doing this morning?

CAVANAUGH: I'm doing fine. Thank you for joining us.

LENZ: My pleasure.

CAVANAUGH: And Wafa Ben Hassine is Associated Students President at UCSD. Wafa, good morning.

BEN HASSINE: Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: Thanks for coming in.

BEN HASSINE: Thank you for having me.

CAVANAUGH: We invited representatives from SDSU to discuss the proposed budget cuts, but campus official say they weren't ready to address the budget issues at this time. We hope to have them join us at a later date. We are inviting listeners to join the conversation. Our number here is 1-888-895-5727. That's 1-888-895-KPBS. Patrick Lenz, how could the governor's proposed budget cuts -- how are they gonna impact the UC system.

LENZ: Well, I think that the governor is facing an overwhelming challenge, certainly, with a $25 billion structural deficit with the state. And he's outlined a plan, what might be characterized as a share of the pain. That having been said, the university is faced with a continual decline in the state's investment in the university, in the $500 million reduction that's being proposed is significant. This comes off of just two years ago when we took a $637,000 reduction to the UC budget, and when you hook at the reductions between just 2007 date, and what the governor's proposing, we'd actually be $733,000 less state general funds than what we had received at that point in time, which is over a 20 percent reduction in the state's investment to the university. So you can see the pattern here has been significant.

CAVANAUGH: Now, when I introduced this topic at the top of the hour, Patrick, I said some were calling these cuts historic in that for the first time, the UC system may be bringing in more money from students' tuition fees than it does from the state. Is that what you're facing?

LENZ: Yes, that is correct. This is a sad by historic day, where student fee revenue, the revenue paid by students and their families will surpass the state's investment, and it has been a pattern that we have seen relative to the last 20 years where the state was investing, at one point in 90, 91, a $16,720 dollars per student, and now with of the proposed 11/12 budget, that's going to be half of that at 700 [check] the nip side of that, is that student fees in 90, 91, constituted $680 and now will be their shear ever the funding per student will be hymn $8,000. [check].

CAVANAUGH: Now, UC president Yudof has said that he does not want to increase tuition, but Patrick, do you think that's possible based on what you've heard about these potential cuts.

LENZ: Well, I think we need to be concerned about taking any of these options off the table. But I certainly respect and support the president's desire to look at any recommendation as it pertains to tuition as a last resort. We are going through a period where we're looking at administrative efficiencies, we're looking at the potential for some debt restructuring, we're looking at other options so that we can do our best to meet the intent of not only the good afternoon but of the regent's desire to be able to manage this $500 million cut but not impact [check].

CAVANAUGH: My guests are Patrick Lenz, he's the university of California's vice president for budget and capital resources, and Wafa Ben Hassine is president of the Associated Students at UC San Diego. We are also inviting our listeners to join the conversation at 1-888-895-5727. Wafa, you've been hearing about these proposed budget cuts coming down the line. What to you see that could mean for the quality of education, and the experience for students at UCSD?

BEN HASSINE: Well, the $500,000 dollar cut is actually really drastic, and it will impact every UC campus very, very [check] successful college experience, and complete thirds requirement category at least relatively on time.

CAVANAUGH: So you're concerned that there are gonna be fewer places for kids to be able to take the classes they need to complete their education in a four-year period of time.

BEN HASSINE: Absolutely, I mean, I'm in my sixth year at my cash register. So there are dwindling resources, classes aren't being offered as often, and so as a result students don't graduate on time. I know personally I only have two more required classes to graduate, and I'm staying on for two more quarters.

CAVANAUGH: Now, I'm wondering what you think about the fees as they are now and any proposed hikes to tuition and fees at UCSD.

BEN HASSINE: Well, I think the current fees as they are really reduce the and affordability, every university, we're already starting to turn students away. Very highly qualified students of especially from -- [check] so that sticker shock, really impacts students in a very drastic way. And the UC asks is really crucial to the booming quality of California, draft [check].

CAVANAUGH: Yes, Patrick, I want to pick up on that before I take a call, because that's one of things the governor said in the stat of the state address last night. This wonderful education California has is in restarting our economy. Were you surprised in hearing in and knowing what the cuts I mean, proposed for the education system.

LENZ: Well, in one -- [check] what California needs as noted by the economic engine to be able to provide fair sustainable economy that will generate the kind of revenue that is necessary to support all those other services that the citizens of California are demanding from the constitutional right T. So we appreciate the comment and the recognition that generally the UC, and the [check] higher education as a whole mays a roam in that economic engine for every dollar the state invests in the university, we provider a $4 return on that investment.

CAVANAUGH: We're taking your calling at 1-888-895-5727 Mary Lee is on the line Mira Mesa, good morning, Mary Lee, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Yes, hi, thank you very much. Let's see. I wanted to talk about this this exact thing, the squeeze that the university is in, in being able to fulfill its purpose, but between being able to fulfill its purpose of educating the people official cool, and also to be able to not draw anymore money out of the system, and oddly enough, politically speaking it's naturalistic gonna be feasible to do the thing, which would really solve the problem [check] as much as I wouldn't hike that or a lot of people wouldn't like that, it's -- it would allow us to conserve the quality of the university. And it would free it from its actual -- we would still have a university here in California, high quality, but you would free it from its obligation to be inclusive of everyone, and have to become more than it already is.

CAVANAUGH: Let me get a reaction to that, Mary, thank you for the call. I wonder, there are some people who are concerned, since there's within a 40 percent tuition increase in the last two years, that the UC system, and [check] [check] [check] [check] [check].

CAVANAUGH:

LENZ: We are and keep in mind that currently UC is serving 11500 students more than what the state is providing any funding so for every one non resident student, we can help support those two additional California residences that aren't being funded by the state of the also, UC's nonresident population for under graduate students is about 5.6 percent. Our comparison institutions are 30, 35 percent, and so we're very, very low in our nonresident population. If you include graduate students, it's -- it gets up to closer to ten percent, but still very low by standard with our comparison institutions. So it really is [check] to assist them in providing those additional course sections that they would be able to get.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, hello? Are you still with us?

LENZ: I am.

CAVANAUGH: Yes. I'm sorry I didn't realize that you had ended there, because I wanted to ask you, one of the things that happened that provoked such controversy during the meeting -- during the recent meeting of the regents was the approval of four million there in bonus and pay increases in some of the UC system' most highly paid employees so I'm wondering how do you justify that in face of this huge budget cut that's proposed for the UC system?

LENZ: Are, in some cases, these weren't bonuses, these were a change in structure where annual bonuses had been provided and.

Do that, this was an adjustment in salary. In other cases, there was an adjustment that had been held at bay for two years, where they were contractually entitled to be pay forward these employees -- [check] that was inappropriate, that these people certainly had legal recourse to go back at the university, to get what was contractually entitled to them, so rather than intend money on attorneys and a lawsuit this we ding we were going to prevail, it was time to say, okay, the freeze is over, and these people who were entitled to these bonuses, by contract, are gonna get paid

CAVANAUGH: Let's take another call. Mark is calling from El Cajon. Good morning, mark, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi, my point is that these professors and employees [check] rest of under the circumstances in the state are taking. They all make upwards of $100,000, they get gold plated pension benefits, they retire with lifetime healthcare, they pay almost nothing for their healthcare while they're working, and it's enough of getting the system more and more and more to pay for this outdated system. [check].

CAVANAUGH: Mark, thank you for the call. You have to admit, Patrick, that was a hard sell, considering the situation that the UC system is in.

LENZ: Well, just to correct a couple things. [check] have gone up dramatically for my family, and my employee contribute [check] doesn't get reported in the paper are those individuals who will actually take positions for far less than what their predecessors have taken, and you know, these report the things that the public is aware of. Because it's not a news story. When an individual comes in, and says they're gonna take a position that is 50 or $100,000 less than their predecessor, that doesn't get reported. We have presented to the regents, revisions to the retirement system that will cut costs, 89, as I noted earlier, we canceled won'tuses and [check] and continue all sorts of things on the administrative end to try to mitigate what has previously been a pattern in the past of what people characterize was excessive executive compensation.

CAVANAUGH: Let's take another call. Justin is calling on 15 -- interstate 15, good morning, Justin, welcome to These Days. Of.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi, thanks for taking my call. I just wanted to make a comment from the students' perspective, 'cause I graduated from UCSD last spring, and mainly I'm really concerned about students' health. Because when I was there at [check] $20,000 in debt. And because of that, you know, while at UCSD, much of my day was face category the stress of [check] and I fear that a lot of students are gonna have to pay the same burden arbitration and it's gonna increase their levels of stress through the campus community, to the point where college is not an enjoyable experience anymore, and only the students that are wealthy are gonna actually be able to be successful in college.

CAVANAUGH: Justin.

NEW SPEAKER: And that's a really dig detriment to what cleaning is supposed to be about. It's supposed to prepare students.

CAVANAUGH: Justin, thank you for your comments 678 element get a response from Wafa [check] UCSD students responds with protests, there were some walk outs of classes, if indeed there is another tuition boost, how is -- how are Associated Students planning to react?

BEN HASSINE: Well, I mean besides just protests and actually expressing our discontent with the situation, our grave discontent with the situation, the Associated Students is planning a lot of outreach initiatives, educating students about what's going on, and also reaching out to legislature, we have a lot of students going to these check check in Sacramento, to advocate for higher education, and we think that's key. And also one other thick that we're planning is to pressure educators are to look into revenue generating sources. There are several options, such as the oil severance tack, that we don't have, [check] for exploiting our resources here in California. And other measures, such as those, to generate these revenues instead of putting it all on the students and on the UC system.

CAVANAUGH: Patrick Lenz, when will we know whether or not these cuts are actually coming to us, to the system, and when will the actual cuts be made to the UC budget?

LENZ: So based on my understanding of legislative process, [check] return to him a budget and an initiative that is placed on the June ballot to extend certain tax revenue, and to address other tax resources, all that is to be accomplished by March. It's my understanding that after March, the legislature will continue their deliberations on a budget to kind of do some fine tuning, the things that they may not be able to get to in the next four weeks and thirds requirement efforts to expedite this first stage of the process. Clearly there is a continuing [check] about not only getting a measure on the June bell on the, but its success, and if it is not successful of, when are the continuing implications for the university? So it's really hard to tell you what a concrete time frame is. I can tell you the regents have requested that we bring them back some budget options if March for their review, and their discussion, their highest priority were options is that did not include reducing enroll 789 buildings or increasing fees, but they didn't totally leave those options out of the mix. They just indicated that those again should be measures of last resort. [check] on what we know in March about the legislators' ability to puts this measure on the June ballot.

CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you so much. Thank you Patrick.

LENZ: You're welcome. Happy to do it.

CAVANAUGH: Patrick Lenz, University of California's president for Budget and Capital Resources And Wafa, thank you.

BEN HASSINE: Thank you so much.

CAVANAUGH: Wafa BenHassine is the Associated Students' President at UC San Diego. If you would like to comment, please on go on-line, KPBS.org/thesedays. Coming up, These Days' legal update. It's next here on KPBS.

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