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Why Newsom’s offer of years of funding increases to California universities faces criticism

Why Newsom’s offer of years of funding increases to California universities faces criticism


Michael Burke
February 4, 2022
The centerpiece to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s higher education budget proposal is coming under scrutiny ahead of negotiations with lawmakers this spring.
In his January budget proposal, the first step in the state’s annual budget process, Newsom revealed a new blueprint for funding California’s two public university systems over the next five years. Under what the governor dubbed “multiyear compacts,” California State University and University of California would receive annual increases of 5% to their base funding through 2026-27, with the expectation that the two systems, in exchange, will work toward goals such as improving graduation rates and making college more affordable.
The 5% increases would amount to more than $200 million in additional funds for each system annually.
But already, the proposal is facing criticism. In a scathing report, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan office that gives fiscal and policy advice to the state Legislature, said Newsom undermined the Legislature’s authority by negotiating the deals directly with the university systems.
The LAO levied additional criticisms, saying in the report that the governor’s list of expectations for the systems “has odd inconsistencies across the segments, is missing key cost estimates, and lacks enforcement mechanisms.” The LAO also cautioned that previous governors have tried to implement compacts but that those compacts haven’t typically gone as planned because economic conditions changed.
For their part, UC and CSU leaders have praised the deal, saying the agreements would provide them with much-needed predictability when it comes to state funding.
H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Newsom’s Department of Finance, said in an interview that the Legislature will get its say as part of the standard budget deliberations this spring and added that the compact’s details are still being honed. He said there will be more clarity in May when Newsom proposes a revised budget.
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