Friday, February 27, 2015

Higher Ed Report from LAO

Pop goes the LAO
The LAO has issued a report on state higher ed funding in the governor's proposed budget.  Much of the report deals with CSU and community colleges.  The components on UC, as in the past, express the LAO’s dislike for the governor’s habit of adding a lump sum to the UC budget without regard to some measure of performance (such as enrollment).  Instead of the governor’s $140 for next year (conditioned on a tuition freeze), LAO prefers an inflation adjustment which it puts at 2.2% and says equates to $126 million. [p. 4] (LAO’s base to which the 2.2% is applied seems to be tuition plus state funding and omits some other state funding.)  LAO suggests a freeze on both the current in-state and out-of-state enrollment for UC. [p. 3]  Indeed, it asserts at one point that UC is currently admitting more than the old Master Plan target of the top eighth.  It suggests that the legislature set tuition as a share of costs (presumably as an alternative to a tuition deal with the governor). [p. 4] LAO suggests that faculty are overpaid relative to other public research universities (not the comparison-8 universities which are half private) [p. 50] and that UC costs/student are higher than such public universities. [p. 49]  It suggests the legislature might set the division between teaching and research since costs would go down if teaching loads went up. [p. 4] In reviewing UC’s pension, the report notes that recent changes regarding state pensions (but not UC’s earlier changes) cap pension payments at $117,000. [p. 51]

LAO report at

All of these matters are phrased in terms of things that might be considered or inferred. You can view the wording as intended to be just some interesting observations and ideas that are among many alternatives, mere possibilities. Or you can regard the wording as weasel language that hides what would amount to a major, major change in the standing of UC, its governance, and its longstanding role in the state. 

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