Sometimes when you've come to expect the worst, not so great doesn't look quite so bad.
University officials in California responded with relief and even gratitude to the budget proposal for higher education that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released on Monday.
In the wake of four and three years of cuts to the budgets of the University of California and California State University systems, respectively, officials of the two university systems almost gushed with thanks to the governor for honoring the "compacts," or agreements, that the state government has struck with the systems. In those pacts, the state committed to certain levels of spending in exchange for promises from the universities to minimize tuition increases.
"The governor has fulfilled his commitments under the compact, providing many of the basic resources we need to begin rebuilding our programs and to sustain our contributions to California's economic competitiveness and quality of life," Robert C. Dynes, president of the University of California, said in a statement. "We appreciate the governor's support for higher education and its transformative impact on the state."
This, even though the goverrnor's budget calls for withdrawing $17 million that the state handed out to the UC system to try to soften the cuts imposed on the system last year.
Charles B. Reed, chancellor of the Cal State system, expressed similarly upbeat sentiments in a news release entitled "Governor's Budget Honors Compact With CSU."
The mood was more muted among officials of the state's community colleges, even though the governor's budget offered an increase of $136 million in general fund support to allow for 3 percent growth in enrollment, and met the two-year colleges' request for a cost-of-living increase for employees.
But the governor's budget fails to deliver more than $1 billion that some education officials believe the state owes to public schools and community colleges under a 1998 ballot initiative known as Proposition 98. Public-school officials struck a deal with the state last year to forgo nearly $2 billion in Proposition 98 funds, and some had hoped that the state would make about $1.1 billion in increased state revenues available to the schools as part of a "catch up" effort.
About $175 million would have come the community colleges' way, but it was not to be.