by B.J. Delas Armas
on 1/23/2004 12:20:00 AM
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I Am Fo' The Children, Always Am, Always Will Be (Part 2)
E-mail I got about Arnold and the dumb moves he has made which has hurt the UC. Follow-up on this post
. [Added 2/24/04] Precursor to this post
. Wow, I farted and it smells like donuts.
Students sue governor
Petitioners: Mid-year cuts to UC, repeal of car tax illegal, misuse of power
By Charles Proctor
DAILY BRUIN SENIOR STAFF
Several students and the University of California Students Association - a system-wide lobbying organization - brought a lawsuit against the Schwarzenegger administration Wednesday, alleging that millions of dollars in mid-year cuts to the UC were made illegally.
The petition - which was brought before the state Supreme Court - seeks to block the implementation of over $148 million in cuts which the governor made in mid-December to various programs, including the UC.
The lawsuit alleges that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger overstepped his authority when he bypassed the state Legislature to make the cuts.
The suit was filed on behalf of UCSA, UCLA second-year political science and Chicana/o studies student Daniela Conde, one student from UC Santa Barbara and two students from UC Berkeley. The Equal Justice Society and Californians for Justice are also petitioners in the lawsuit.
The mid-year cuts to the UC wiped out funding for the UC labor research institutes and cut outreach funding to the UC by $33.3 million.
"The reasoning behind (the lawsuit) is pretty simple - we want the government and the people of the state to understand the direct implication of these mid-year budget cuts to the university and the services they value," said Matt Kaczmarek, the chairman of UCSA and internal vice president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council.
The mid-year cuts also drained general funds that could have gone toward shoring up the governor's budget for the 2004-2005 fiscal year- a budget that calls for $372 million in cuts to the UC, Kaczmarek said.
Schwarzenegger's office referred questions about the lawsuit to the state's Department of Finance, which said the governor's actions were legal.
"We wouldn't have taken this action unless we were sure Schwarzenegger was on solid legal ground in executing his executive branch powers in the way that he did," said H.D. Palmer, deputy director for the Department of Finance.
The Equal Justice Society and Californians for Justice signed on to the petition mostly because they are worried about the cuts to outreach and whether they will restrict access to higher education for minority students, representatives of the two groups said.
The state Supreme Court must now decide whether it will hear the case or hand it off to a lower court.
The lawsuit's point of contention lies with two budget statutes that dictate how and when the governor can repeal the vehicle license fee, said Nicholas van Aelstyn, a lawyer representing the petitioners.
The petitioners say the governor violated one statute when he repealed the vehicle license fee without there being sufficient funds to make up for the resulting budget gap.
Schwarzenegger repealed the license fee in an executive order shortly after his inauguration, creating a $4 billion gap in the state budget - a gap Schwarzenegger partially made up through cuts in state funding.
The petitioners also say the governor did not have the power to repeal the license fee or designate cuts to the UC without consulting the state Legislature.
"We believe (Schwarzenegger's) actions were clearly in violation of the relevant statutes," van Aelstyn said.
Kirk Stark, a UCLA law professor who specializes in California law, said the basis of the lawsuit has merit but budget statutes are often open to interpretation, which may give the edge to Schwarzenegger.
However, he added that the lawsuit does raise some valid objections to the monetary shuffle game that is the state budget process.
"Ultimately, I think this case is significant less for its legal merit and more for its laudable political objections," he said.
"Stranger things have happened in California, so the Supreme Court could decide it is now the moment to do something surprising, but I'm a bit skeptical," he added.
Labels: State of Education, War on Poverty (or lack thereof)