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"Best" UC Budget in a Decade Features Outreach, Capital Funds

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
posted September 2, 1998

The 1998-99 state budget signed into law by Gov. Pete Wilson Aug. 21 is "the best budget of the decade for the University of California," said UC President Richard Atkinson, "and it will be welcome news to the entire university community."

The $2.519 billion General Fund allocation to UC represents an increase of $340 million, or 15.6 percent, over 1997-98 (11.4 percent when a student fee reduction is factored in).

For faculty, the spending plan includes a 2.5 percent salary equity adjustment, which represents the final step in a four-year plan to restore salaries to levels competitive with comparison institutions. For employees, the budget includes funding for merit increases and cost-of-living adjustments.

On campus, this means a merit control figure of up to 3.5 percent.

"We're pretty happy with the results of this year's budget process," said Russell Giambelluca, executive director of Berkeley's Campus Budget Office. "This is certainly a change. Hopefully, we've come to a period of stability and will actually be able to provide funding for areas of the campus sorely needing it."

The "change" Giambelluca refers to is the contrast between the 1998-99 UC budget and painful cutbacks during the early '90s.

"What's new and important about this spending plan," Giambelluca said, "is the additional one-time funding for deferred maintenance, instructional technology and equipment and libraries." (The budget includes $70 million for these purposes.)

The UC Office of the President is expected to notify the campus soon with final allocation figures from the overall budget.

Plans for using Berkeley's share of the increased funding are well underway, said Giambelluca. Campus vice chancellors have received allocations for each of their units based upon the campus's anticipation of these augmentations, he said.

The budget also includes $42.6 million to enroll 6,000 additional UC students -- including 800 more engineering and computer science undergraduates -- and a 5 percent fee reduction for California resident undergraduates.

Berkeley has agreed to increase enrollments in its engineering disciplines by 400 students over the next two years. Berkeley's share of the workload allocations will go for hiring new faculty and increasing instructional support.

The budget also provides an additional $33.5 million for outreach programs, to be augmented by $5 million from UC. With the required matching funds, UC is expected to more than double the $65 million spent on outreach programs last year.

Other funding items include:

• $11.4 million to support development of UC Merced;

• a $7 million increase for the Industry-University Cooperative Research Program, which promotes research partnerships between UC and private industry;

• $3 million for the California Digital Library, to develop links among the UC libraries, in addition to the $1 million already invested in the project by the university.

Work is still going on to finalize funding for capital improvement projects -- seismic, modernization and infrastructure -- on UC's nine campuses. The Senate and the Assembly have approved the general obligation bond measure,which will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot as Proposition 1A.

The final version is a $9.2 billion bond measure, which includes $6.7 billion for K-12 and $2.5 billion (over four years) for higher education, contingent upon voter approval.

At Berkeley, voter approval of the bond would mean additional resources to fund earthquake and other improvements to Wurster, Barker, and LeConte halls and the campus water distribution and sewer systems, among others.

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