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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Golden Spike

Last golden spike on the Transcontinental Railroad
CalPERS recently approved a host of extra bonus-type payments that could be used in the calculation of its pension benefits, raising concerns about pension spiking (artificial end-of-career inflation of the base on which pensions are calculated).  Governor Brown expressed some concern, but objected only to one of these devices. In principle, the legislation he pushed not so long ago was supposed to discourage spiking which irritates the public since it can result in pensions greater than final base salary.

UC is much better at limiting spiking than is CalPERS.  So in one sense we benefit by being able to point to what we don't allow.  On the other hand, when folks get riled up about public pensions generally, UC tends to get pulled into some blanket legislation covering everyone.  We escaped that fate (narrowly) the last time.  We might not be so lucky next time.

You can read about the CalPERS issue at
http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/19/6637840/calpers-pension-rules-would-ok.html

UPDATE: CalPERS included the one item Brown opposed in its approvals:
http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/20/6642166/jerry-brown-blasts-calpers-board.html

They don't want to play ball with us

Some blog readers may recall that UCLA is in danger of losing its baseball field at the VA.  For those that don't, the VA in Westwood has been renting out land on its campus for various commercial and non-commercial purposes, including to UCLA for baseball.  Apparently, since these uses do not directly benefit veterans, there is a legal question as to whether such uses are OK.  A court decision last year said "no."

Now the LA County Board of Supervisors has voted to endorse the court's decision.  It's not clear why the Supervisors want to get into this dispute since they have no jurisdiction over the (federal) property.  The plaintiffs want to have housing built for homeless veterans but no one (including the Board of Supervisors) is offering to pay for it and booting out the renters will mean a loss of revenue for the VA.

You can read about this matter at http://patch.com/california/westwood-century-city/county-supports-veterans-exclusive-use-westwood-va-campus

As for UCLA baseball at the VA, we'll just have to see where the ball rolls:
video

Nothing to write home about

The state Dept. of Finance released its data on receipts for July, the first month of the 2014-15 fiscal year.  The major taxes - income tax, sales tax, corporate tax - are running at or above forecast levels. (The forecast is the one made in conjunction with the new budget.)  Better more than less, of course.  But it's only one month, so nothing to write home about.  As noted in prior blogs, Gov. Brown seems to have a strategy of making "conservative" revenue forecasts in the hopes of restraining the legislature. 

You can find the latest data at http://www.dof.ca.gov/finance_bulletins/2014/august/Aug-14.pdf

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Getting Their Two Cents In

Today seems to be a day for UCLA op eds.

Prof. Donald Shoup of Urban Planning has a suggestion as to how the City of LA might stop stumbling over sidewalk repairs:

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0819-shoup-los-angeles-sidewalks-20140819-story.html

Chancellor Block wants to put you to sleep:
http://m.us.wsj.com/article_email/our-internal-sleep-clocks-are-out-of-sync-1408036238-lMyQjAxMTA0MDEwOTExNDkyWj

Pay Survey

The 2013-14 faculty pay survey of AAUP is now available, courtesy of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  At the link below, you will find base salary, salary plus supplements (but no info on benefits), among other items.  Base salary averages for UCLA:

Full Prof: $173,900
Associate Prof: $111,800
Assistant Prof: $91,500

[Berkeley pays somewhat less at the top; somewhat more at the bottom.]

Link to survey at:
http://chronicle.com/article/2013-14-AAUP-Faculty-Salary/145679/

Note: While at one time, including benefits would generally show up as raising the UC ranking in pay, that is no longer necessarily the case.

Anyway, you can make your own tabulations at the site:
video



Monday, August 18, 2014

Uh Oh!

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article on Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom's limited office space resources.  Within that report, we find the following tidbit:

...Newsom isn't living large in his San Francisco space. On a recent afternoon, his desk was littered with handwritten notes on legal pads for a project he's putting together on the University of California system, where he's a member of the Board of Regents...

Full story at http://m.sfgate.com/politics/article/Gavin-Newsom-tech-den-a-comedown-from-Sacramento-5694570.php

More on Marching Towards the Michigan Model

The LA Times reports on the large number of out-of-state students who pay full freight at UC, effectively a move towards the Michigan Model of university finance:

The University of California system is expected to enroll a record number of out-of-state students this fall — and will receive millions of dollars in return.  More than a fifth of all UC freshmen will come from such places as Texas, Washington, China and India and each will pay an additional $23,000 in tuition, providing the system with an estimated $400 million in extra revenue that officials say helps support the education of Californians...

Among the freshman classes at the nine UC undergraduate campuses, the highest percentages from out of state are at UCLA, 30.1%; UC Berkeley, 29.8%; and UC San Diego, 28.4%...

Until 1993, it was easy to establish California residency within a year or so and then pay the lower tuition. But UC rules were tightened so that current students must prove financial independence for at least two prior years, among other things, to gain resident status.  As a result, only "a very small portion" of students from outside California do so, said Stephen Handel, the UC system's associate vice president for undergraduate admissions...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-out-of-state-20140818-story.html

It's just found money: