Yesterday, California voters soundly defeated five ballot measures intended to help right the state's wobbly finances. The vote is a rebuke to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state legislators, who in February cobbled together a mix of caps on state spending, extensions on temporary tax hikes, earmarks to offset cuts to education, and other measures in an attempt to close the state's projected $21 billion budget deficit. The outcome also portends more pain for the state's cash-strapped university system.
Even before the vote, the University of California (UC) had instituted some hiring and salary freezes and taken other steps to address the financial crisis. For the 2009–2010 academic year, UC cut freshman enrollment targets by 2300 students and raised student fees 9.3%. Now, more sacrifices appear to be in store. A revised budget scenario released by the governor's office last week predicted a net $322 million, or 10%, reduction in the university's budget if the ballot measures failed. In a statement, UC President Mark Yudof said the university would be forced to look at "a wide variety of unpleasant options" including still higher fees, larger classes, and pay cuts or furloughs for staff. The California State University system and community colleges will also face harsh cuts.