The University of California Board of Regents today approved a plan that will institute employee furloughs along with other cuts and fee hikes to offset an anticipated $813 million budget shortfall.
The plan, approved by a 20-to-1 vote this morning at a board meeting at the UCSF Mission Bay campus, will force more than 108,000 nonunion members of the UC’s faculty and staff to take up to 26 furlough days, with higher earners being forced to take off more days and face steeper pay cuts.
UC President Mark Yudof said the furloughs will have an adverse effect on the universities but are unavoidable.
“If we didn’t have the furloughs then I think it’s very likely that we would have to consider laying off people,” Yudof said. “We’re trying to protect the academic program, but (the deficit) is such a huge part of our budget, I just don’t see our ability to do that.”
The only vote against the plan was by ex-officio Regent Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who had pushed for the board to endorse AB 656, a bill in the state Assembly that would tax oil companies to fund higher education in the state.
The furloughs are expected to eliminate about a quarter of the budget deficit. The rest of the savings will come from previously approved student fee increases, debt refinancing and cuts spread across the 10 UC campuses.
The furlough plan will also be proposed to union workers, who make up roughly a third of the university’s workforce, Yudof said.
“If at the end of the day they say ‘We don’t want furloughs’…then we’ll have to consider the layoff option,” he said.
Union workers have already voiced opposition to the plan. Jelger Kalmijn, president of the University Professional and Technical Employees union, said Wednesday that the budget gap could be addressed by tapping UC’s financial reserves and by abating expansion and moderating executive pay.
UC students and employees set up picket lines to protest the furloughs and fee hikes before Wednesday’s joint meeting of the finance and compensation committees.
“Yudof makes twice what his predecessor made, but he’s decided to furlough workers already making 20 to 30 percent under market rate,” Kalmijn said.
Yudof said he will be included in the furloughs, and that calls to further reduce his salary are “a ploy,” and that UC needs leadership and should pay market value for that leadership.
“When you go to the hospital, and you’re having surgery, do you simply go to the lounge area and say, “Hey who’s the cheapest surgeon in the room?” he said. “That’s the moral equivalent of what’s happening here.”
California State University officials announced last week that they would be closing admissions for the upcoming winter and spring terms, but Yudof said a similar plan was not being considered for UC schools.
“To me it is almost the worst possible solution to diminish opportunity,” he said. “I have to maintain quality, (students) have to be admitted to something worthwhile, but the idea that you substantially cut back on admissions is just the wrong thing for the state to do.”