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(Sacramento) – Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) provided the opening remarks at today’s Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 hearing, which focused on the University of California’s budget. Last December, Speaker Atkins outlined plans to closely examine UC’s budget to ensure that every dollar appropriated is spent on its intended purpose. UC, Legislative Analyst’s Office, the Department of Finance representatives testified at the hearing, providing an overview on UC expenditures. Students, faculty, and labor representatives also provided their perspectives. Below is the text of Speaker Atkins’ opening remarks to the Committee.

Speaker Atkins remarks to the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 (as prepared):

First, I want to thank everyone for participating in this hearing.

And thank you Chairman McCarty for taking on this challenge.

I believe today is an important day.

Both in terms of advancing the relationship between the State of California and the University of California, and in terms of how we approach the budget process in the Capitol.

I announced in December that we would be scrutinizing every aspect of the University of California’s budget.

At the time I noted that it is simply not practical to do the same for every item in the 100-plus billion dollar state budget over the course of a few months.

But if we take that approach to different entities every year, we can rebuild the entire budget over time, knowing that every dollar appropriated is being spent for the intended purpose and in the right way.

Given UC’s importance to California and our future, and given the real burdens that fee increases place on California students and their families, UC is the right place to start.

These hearings will give UC the opportunity to show efficiencies it has made and to identify others.

And these hearings will allow us to look at whether dollars that could hold tuition at the current level would be better spent on different UC priorities, as President Napolitano has suggested. 

As you know, Governor Brown and President Napolitano have agreed to work as a “committee of two” to examine UC’s finances and funding.

Their efforts will complement the top-to-bottom approach the Assembly begins today.

We will have open, public hearings that are student-focused—looking at how much it really costs to educate students at UC, and how we maximize UC’s acceptance of California students.

No Californian should be priced out of a UC.

The State must do our part and make higher education a top budget priority. 
Last year, starting with this subcommittee, the Assembly called for $100 million more than was budgeted for UC, but that number did not survive the final budget agreement.

And my follow up legislation last year to allocate an additional $50 million to UC was unfortunately vetoed.  

This year we are calling for $150 million more for UC - $50 million from the General Fund and
$100 million from asking out of state students to pay fees closer to a market rate.

UC must do its part and become more efficient, enroll more Californians, and not place increases on the backs of California students.
Today’s hearing marks the start of an overdue journey—a journey that will continue throughout the budget process and as long as it takes. 

Thank you.

Website of Speaker Toni G. Atkins: www.asmdc.org/speaker

Below are links to audio of Speaker Atkins:

Opening remarks to Budget Subcommittee 2 on Higher Education. (2:30)
{mp3remote}http://www.asmdc.org/audio/20150218UCBudgetHearingAtkinsRemarks.mp3{/mp3remote}

Speaker Atkins says the state has a responsibility to keep the UC system affordable for California students. (:09)
{mp3remote}}http://www.asmdc.org/audio/20150218UCBudgetHearingAtkins1.mp3{/mp3remote}

Speaker Atkins says the this review of the UC system budget is moving on two tracks at the same time. (:24)
{mp3remote}http://www.asmdc.org/audio/20150218UCBudgetHearingAtkins2.mp3{/mp3remote}

Speaker Atkins says the UC administrators must also find efficiencies to keep the cost to students from rising. (:07)
{mp3remote}http://www.asmdc.org/audio/20150218UCBudgetHearingAtkins3.mp3{/mp3remote}