Last month, the state auditor issued a damning report on the finances and practices of the University of California president’s office.
Now, the state Legislature should be aggressive in trying to find out more.
In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, Auditor Elaine Howle reported that UCOP “used misleading budgeting practices, provided its employees with generous salaries and atypical benefits, and failed to satisfactorily justify its spending on systemwide initiatives.”
It was revealed that, for years, UCOP requested and received far more money than it needed and had amassed an undisclosed surplus of $175 million. When asked to disclose records of $35.8 million in expenditures for things like lodging, meals and entertainment, UCOP delayed for weeks before producing records for only $10.4 million in expenses.
Considering that in January the UC system approved its first tuition hike since 2010-11, revelations of such a massive surplus and questionable budgetary practices raise alarms.
Compounding this, the auditor reported that UCOP directly interfered with confidential surveys distributed to leaders of the university system’s 10 campus by the auditor, with responses altered to reflect more positive views of UC operations.
A group of Assembly Republicans has called on Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-South Gate, to issue a legislative subpoena to compel the University of California to produce all financial records and correspondences pertaining to the $175 million fund. Rendon has declined to do so.
In a meeting with our editorial board Tuesday, Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, reiterated calls for the subpoena as well as a forensic audit to better understand how money from the $175 million surplus has been used.
Stressing he is not interested in a witch hunt, Acosta rightly said students and the public alike are owed a thorough accounting of how their money was used. “We don’t have the information, so let’s get the information,” he said.