Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:
Yesterday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made a very important statement of commitment to higher education in his State of the State Address from Sacramento. In acknowledging that "we can no longer afford to cut higher education" and proposing a constitutional amendment to rebalance spending between education and prisons, the Governor has taken a bold and visionary step to reposition support for education among the State's highest priorities.
We commend Governor Schwarzenegger for taking this strong stance in response to the efforts of UCOP leadership to restore funding for the university. Across the UC campuses, including our own, we have all been working hard to convince Sacramento of the critical importance to our State of investment in public higher education. I am sure that you are as uplifted and encouraged as I am by this very positive outcome.
I want to emphasize, however, that this is just a beginning. First, we must remain focused on the near-term and on the budget for the upcoming year. Although the Governor has indicated that he wants no further cuts to higher education, we will need to convince legislators from both parties to support the Governor in this, given the $19.9 billion projected State deficit. Second, passing a constitutional amendment to guarantee that the University of California and the California State University systems receive no less than 10% of the state's operating funds each year will require all our support in ensuring that the Governor's commitment survives the legislative process and succeeds as a ballot initiative. We will need to continue to advocate with our legislators and the California public to secure stable financial support of public higher education.
I look forward to working with you all in the coming weeks and months as we continue our efforts to ensure that the legislature restores funding to the University of California.
The Governor's statement can be read at http://gov.ca.gov/speech/14118/
President Yudof's response to the Governor's announcement is available at http://atyourservice.ucop.edu/news/general/0106-presidentmessage_sos.html
Robert J. Birgeneau