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Napolitano reaffirms need for additional state funding for UC

By Daily Bruin

March 24, 2014 7:59 p.m.

This post was updated on March 26 at 6:23 p.m.

As state budget negotiations continue, University of California President Janet Napolitano made the case for additional funding for the UC at a speaker’s event in Sacramento on Monday.

“When I took this job, I told … President (Barack Obama), ‘The United States cannot thrive if California does not thrive, and California is not going to thrive if the University of California does not thrive,'” Napolitano said at the event, which was hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s initial budget proposal, released in January, allotted the UC a 5 percent base increase from the 2013-2014 year, a budget hike Napolitano has sought to build on.

Napolitano, who said she testified on behalf of the University at a California Assembly Committee on Budget meeting in February, said the Democrat-majority assembly said it would support a 9 percent increase for the UC system. The committee declined to comment on the meeting.

But the final funding level is still undecided. From now until the June 15 deadline to pass the budget bill, state lawmakers will continue to deliberate on its details.

During a webchat in January with a panel of UC students, Napolitano said she planned on having “serious discussions” with various community stakeholders and the public at large about the value of the University.

“It’s easier for the political actors to support the UC if (that) is what the public wants,” Napolitano said during the webchat in response to a question about how she would encourage additional state investment.

At Monday’s event, Hans Johnson, a Public Policy Institute of California research fellow, said he thinks that on a broader historical scale the state has been de-emphasizing higher education as a budget priority.

Johnson compared state funding levels for corrections and for higher education over time. In the 2001-2002 year, for every general fund dollar spent on corrections, $1.89 was spent on higher education. A decade later, during the 2011-2012 year, for every corrections dollar, the state spent $0.82 on higher education, he said.

“Our economy is increasingly demanding more college-educated and more skilled workers, yet our higher education policies and institutions are not at a pace to meet that demand,” Johnson said. “Looking back, education progress and economic progress has gone hand-in-hand in the state of California.”

Compiled by Emily Suh, Bruin senior staff.

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