After state Auditor Elaine Howle’s advise to the Legislature to establish better oversight of the University of California president’s office, California lawmakers looked to propose a change to the state Constitution and a new budget measure to help them take control of spending by UC President Janet Napolitano’s office. This comes after a state audit revealed problems with Napolitano’s office that included misleading accounting practices and hidden funds. Last week, State Senator Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) introduced a constitutional amendment that would ask voters whether Napolitano’s office should keep its full budget autonomy. Meanwhile, the Assembly is looking to require that the UC president’s office be funded directly by the Legislature to give lawmakers oversight and control over how the UC president’s office spends those funds. Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) stated,

This was a scathing audit, and it’s time the Legislature takes action. To not take action would be a huge disappointment.

If the Assembly’s budget proposal is passed, it would eliminate the ability of the UC president’s office to collect campus fees, which it has exclusive control over how to spend that money. The Assembly’s budget proposal would set aside $296.4 million in the state budget for the UC president’s office and another $52.4 million for UC Path, which is the university’s payroll and human resources system. Currently, the UC system only gets 10 percent of its revenue from the state and the rest of the system’s $32.5 billion revue comes from its medical centers, government contracts and student fees. Auditors claim that Napolitano’s office amassed the $175 million reserves it was hiding by regularly overestimating how much was needed to run the 10 campus university system, and then spending less than budgeted. Hopefully the UC president’s office does receive more oversight to ensure that it does not continue its accounting practices and hide funds.

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