Election Results and Our Campus Financial Picture

Financial Stability

The passage of California's Proposition 30 lends a measure of sorely lacking stability to state funding.

By now, you likely have heard that Proposition 30, the governor’s tax measure on the statewide ballot, has been approved by voters. This is good news, as it lends a measure of sorely lacking stability to state funding.

While UCLA is deeply appreciative of Gov. Brown and all the Californians who turned out to vote for Proposition 30, we all must remember that it does little in the short term to alleviate the effects of past funding cuts and unfunded cost increases. State support has fallen 44 percent since 2000, even as we have absorbed numerous cost increases, such as health insurance premiums, collective bargaining agreements, pensions and utility rates.

To adjust to new funding realities, UCLA has cut expenditures, streamlined operations and developed new non-state revenue streams. The campus-wide search for savings must go on, and I will continue to work with senior administrators, academic leaders and student representatives to protect academic programs. Reflecting that priority, in the past, we have made contingency funds available to ensure that there are enough seats in the high-demand classes that students need to graduate in a timely manner, and that’s something we will again consider.

The disinvestment in public higher education has created a structural problem that can’t be fixed easily and requires long-term strategies. As I explained in a recent Time magazine essay, by chronically reducing funding, California and other states are jeopardizing our nation’s future by forsaking the young minds and the research we need to fuel the economy. In today’s New York Times, Thomas Friedman predicted that preparing the future workforce and ensuring a middle class will be a key issue over the next four years. “The answer to that challenge,” Friedman wrote, “will require a new level of political imagination — a combination of educational reforms and unprecedented collaboration between business, schools, universities and government to change how workers are trained and empowered to keep learning.”

I couldn’t agree more. At UCLA, we have many partnerships with other universities and both the public and private sectors to help prepare our youth and further our research mission. We’re on the road toward a new financial model, ramping up fundraising efforts, bolstering intellectual property licensing, accepting more international and out-of-state students, and taking other actions to increase revenues. But we need leadership from Washington and business leaders if we are to create an aggressive national strategy to save public higher education and preserve our nation’s future.

While I’m discouraged by long-term funding trends, I’m optimistic about UCLA’s future, and the passage of Proposition 30 shows that voters are willing to increase taxes to pay for important programs. We are a vibrant community with inspiring ingenuity and resilience. We will meet these challenges and secure our promising future together, guided by our overriding priority to maintain and enhance the broad excellence, rich student experience and affordability that attract the world’s top students and scholars.

  • Gene D. BlockChancellor