Update on Advocacy
February 23, 2010
In his January State of the State Address, Governor Schwarzenegger acknowledged the importance of higher education in California. The Governor’s budget proposal supports increases in UC funding. We appreciate the Governor’s leadership and advocacy in this regard. It sends an important message on behalf of the university to all Californians.
However, the state still faces a projected shortfall of $20 billion by June 30, 2011, and we have no certainty that the legislature will approve the Governor’s proposal. So, for planning purposes, we must remain conservative and assume that the final budget may not pass as proposed. Even so, the fact that the Governor has brought the topic of higher education to the forefront is generating discussion on the issue.
Meanwhile, as we undertake cost-cutting and restructuring across campus in response to long-term budget realities, we continue to lobby hard on behalf of UCLA with state officials. In early February, I spent several days in Sacramento, meeting with key members of the state’s legislative leadership. The following Friday, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass came to a dinner at the Chancellor’s Residence for an extended discussion on the impact of the budget reductions on UCLA. We also discussed advocacy strategies that can help us address the budget crisis in the future.
At the end of January, EVC and Provost Scott Waugh was in Sacramento, delivering the same messages regarding the impact of budget reductions on UCLA. In total, he and I spoke with 25 legislators, including Speaker-elect John Perez, to remind them of the dire results we face if they continue to cut funds to higher education.
Those with whom we spoke acknowledged the value of UCLA and understand that we need a stable, reliable source of income from the state, but there are no easy answers to California’s critical economic problems. We did receive assurances that we will not receive mid-year cuts.
Our strong advocacy efforts will continue. On March 1, UCLA students will join other UC students for a day of lobbying and advocacy together. This “March on Sacramento” is being organized by the UC Student Association. And on March 19, our State Government Relations Office will conduct a “UCLA Day in the District” with state legislators from throughout Los Angeles County. UCLA advocates will meet with state Assembly and Senate representatives in their district offices.
I will return to Sacramento on April 27 for the Higher Education Inter-Segmental Advocacy Day, when we will join representatives of other UC campuses, the CSU and the state’s community colleges to demonstrate each higher education sector’s contribution to the state’s economic development. The event will be paired with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Master Plan for Higher Education. And on April 14, Sherry Lansing, vice chair of the UC Board of Regents, will lead a delegation of business leaders for a Corporate Advocacy Day on behalf of UCLA.
We need as many voices as possible speaking up for UCLA. I encourage you to join the advocacy effort. You can sign up at http://www.advocacy.ucla.edu/getinvolved.html.
We will keep you apprised as more information becomes available, but we won’t know more from the state until May when a revised budget is released. You can always find current budget information at www.ucla.edu/about/budget.
I’m confident that, working together, we can ensure that UCLA continues to be an amazing place, setting the bar for public research universities everywhere. As always, I am deeply grateful for all that you do on the university’s behalf.
Gene D. Block