California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed his own idea on Thursday to make the University of California and California State University systems spend $10 million each on education technology.
The new money was designed to allow the two systems to increase the number of online courses available to undergraduate students. Instead, under the budget Brown made law Thursday, the two universities will get to keep the money and spend it any way they want. Brown used his line-item veto power to take the strings off the money, although both UC and Cal State say they will go ahead with plans to buy technology with the funds. "Eliminating these earmarks will give the university greater flexibility to manage its resources to meet its obligations, operate its instructional programs more effectively, and avoid tuition and fee increases," his veto message said.
Even though they don't have to, both systems said they plan to spend the money on technology. “We’ve made a commitment to provide the $10 million, so it’s not going to affect our plans,” said Steve Montiel, a spokesman for the UC president's office.
Michael Uhlenkamp, spokesman for Cal State Chancellor Timothy White, said the system thinks technology can help address a critical need and that it can use the money to alleviate bottlenecks.
"So while there is no legislative mandate in the budget to accomplish this, we’ll still continue to work along those lines," he said in an email.
An earmark that gives nearly $17 million to the California community college system and mandates the system spend the money specifically on ed tech remained in the budget Brown signed Thursday.
Dean Florez, the head of the pro-online education 20 Million Minds Foundation and former majority leader in the California Senate, said Brown's veto should make colleges think about spending more on online education rather than less.
"Governor Brown vetoing his own earmark for online education in the CSU and UC, emphasizes that funding for said programs should not be limited in any way,” he said in a statement. “The California Community Colleges, who serve 2.4 million students and already have approximately 17 percent of their courses online, will still receive $16.9 million in dedicated funds for expansion of online access. In light of the advances made in the CCC system, we hope that the other two segments will follow through with their assurances of online program advancement to alleviate system-wide bottlenecks.”