Schwarzenegger Vetoes Funds for U. of California Programs That Do

by E Wayne Ross on July 14, 2005

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Gov. Schwarzenegger Vetoes Funds for U. of California Programs That Do
Research on Labor Issues

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California signed a state budget this week that includes spending increases for higher education in 2005-6, he also used his line-item veto power to strike $3.8-million from the plan that lawmakers had set aside for labor-research programs at the University of California.

The funds that the governor cut had been allocated for the university’s Labor and Employment Research Fund, which supports studies by faculty members and graduate students across the 10-campus system, and for education and esearch on labor conducted by industrial-relations institutes located at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses.In a message accompanying his veto of the labor-research funds on Monday,
Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, said that “these reductions are needed to
help bring ongoing expenditures in line with existing resources.”

The governor did not voice any philosophical objections to the research
programs, but he has consistently singled them out for cuts. He had proposed
eliminating funds for the University of California’s labor research last
year as well, but the final state budget continued to finance the studies.

Some business-oriented and conservative interest groups in California have
criticized the labor research conducted at the university’s
industrial-relations institutes. The groups oppose using state dollars to
support programs that have, among other things, been aimed at helping to
improve the capacity and operations of labor unions.

“I don’t think there is any state program more deserving of the governor’s
blue pencil than this one,” said Matt Tennis, legislative director at the
Associated Builders and Contractors of California. He argued that the
research programs at the industrial-relations institutes had been used to
promote a “pro-labor” political agenda that he said was inappropriate for a
public university to try to advance.

Leaders of California labor unions have defended the labor-research programs
as important for helping to improve California’s understanding of issues
affecting workers. The American Association of University Professors has
also opposed efforts to eliminate funds for the labor studies, arguing that
singling out specific research topics for cuts violated the academic freedom
of scholars and undermined the university’s autonomy. Universities often
conduct research that helps improve businesses, and having institutions
support studies that help labor unions is no different, supporters of the
programs argued.

Democratic lawmakers backed the labor studies as well, saying that they
believe that the programs provide important, high-quality research for the
state. State Sen. Jack Scott, a Democrat who is chairman of the Senate
Education Committee, said that he wanted the state to help finance research
on a wide range of topics and that he viewed the work being done by the
labor-research programs as “quite valid.”

“To single this one area out and delete funding for this appeared to be
partisan,” Mr. Scott said of the governor’s veto. “I regretted to see that
he took that out.”

For their part, University of California officials said that they had done
their best to work constructively on the issue with members of both
political parties and with others who have voiced interest in labor-research
programs. “We will continue working to see if there is some way of funding a
program in this area in a manner that addresses the concerns and interests
of all involved,” Brad Hayward, a university spokesman, wrote in an e-mail

The governor’s veto of the research programs was accompanied by mostly good news for higher education in the overall $117.3-billion state budget for
2005-6. The plan provided spending increases for all three public-college
systems. The University of California will get $2.8-billion, a 5-percent
increase. For California State University, the budget included $2.6-billion,
a 5.4-percent increase. And California’s community colleges were allocated
$5.5-billion, a 9.7-percent increase.

“We are grateful to both the governor and the Legislature for adopting a
budget that halts the cuts of the last few years and invests in higher
education’s contributions to California,” Robert C. Dynes, president of the
University of California, said in prepared remarks about the overall budget.