Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the California state budget Oct. 8., providing the UC system with $3 billion in funding.

The signing of the budget bill coincided with the 50th anniversary of the California Master Plan for Higher Education.

Schwarzenegger would not sign a state budget without the increased funds for higher education, he said at an April meeting in Sacramento with UC President Mark Yudof, CSU chancellor Charles Reed and California Community Colleges chancellor Jack Scott.

The governor upheld his promise when he approved the budget proposed by California legislators after multiple revisions. The budget includes approximately $3 billion for academic programs, student financial aid and health education and research. This is a $370.4 million increase over the 2009–10 budget.

“Although we have a long way to go to make up for the cuts of the past three years, it is encouraging to see lawmakers willing to reinvest in the university,” said UC Santa Cruz chancellor George Blumenthal in an e-mail to the campus community.

Before the budget was approved, California faced a budget gap of $19.3 billion.

“A budget gap is the difference between spending and revenues,” said Max Selfridge, a third-year College Ten economics and politics double major. “To close the gap, they have to keep cutting spending.”

The other option in closing the gap is to raise taxes, but in the 2010–11 May revision of the California state budget, Schwarzenegger pledged to increase funding for higher education without raising taxes.

Assistant professor of economics Justin Marion explained the aspects of the budget that will affect public education in California.

“Some of the things they would do would be to defer payouts in certain programs until the future fiscal year, so it looks like they’ve done that a couple times. Some of the funding for K–12 education actually in the current budget is going to be put on next year’s budget,” Marion said. “It’s obviously a good thing for UC to get the additional funding, but eventually the state revenues are going to have to come back for us to get something more permanent.”

The 2010 budget gap was $5 billion smaller than in 2008.

The 2010 Budget Act took effect after the proposed budget bill was signed into law by the governor. The act bridged the gap by cutting spending to the Department of Parks and Recreation, health and human services, child welfare services and community-based services, among other areas.

The daily lives of Santa Cruzans will be affected, as they will likely see cuts to public services.

“The Metro service is going to be devastated because public transportation is one of the first things to go,” said Ryan Coonerty, city councilman, UCSC professor and soon-to-be-mayor.

However, there is a plan underway in Santa Cruz’s Westside to stimulate business.

The Delaware Addition is a large space under development that will include 44 land parcels, each consisting of at least 9,000 square feet. Each of the parcels will include a prepared building pad, all service utilities, paved access streets and roads, improved parking lots, drainage facilities and common area amenities.

“The idea [of the Delaware Addition] is for people to live and work in the same space to grow business,” Coonerty said.

While taxes are not going up, student tuition is. In addition to last year’s midyear fee increase — at the November 2009 meeting, the UC regents approved a 2010-11 fee increase — as of fall 2010, student fee increases included $1,344 for resident undergraduates, $1,458 for non-resident undergraduates, $1,344 for resident graduate students and $1,398 for non-resident graduate students. At their Nov. 16-18 meeting this year the regents will consider a proposal for an additional 2011–12 fee increase.

Despite the increased funding over the last year, “permanent state support for UC remains 10 percent below the level provided in 2007-08, and since then UC’s enrollment of California residents has increased by 16,000 students,” said Patrick Lenz, UC vice president for budget in his official statement regarding the budget.

In November, the UC regents will meet at UC San Francisco Mission Bay to vote on the spending plan for the 2011–2012 year. The most important aspects they will consider are enrollment, UC Retirement Plan contributions, employee compensations, retiree health benefits and student fees.