From The University Times at Cal State
(Los Angeles – UT) Governor
Schwarzenegger has announced his plan to close the $14.5 billion state gap, by taking $1.1 billion from California’s
public colleges and universities, forcing fee increases and limiting enrollment. The education sector – like virtually
all state-funded programs—will be undergoing severe belt-tightening under the governor’s plan.
Over $312 million of that cut will
come from the CSUN system. Tuition increases are already predicted to be raised a minimum of 10% during the next year. With
the upcoming budget cuts, the increase may become even steeper. To limit enrollment, the length of the application period
will be cut, and fewer classes may be added.
The state’s chief budget analyst
Elizabeth Hill criticized the governor’s plan for not being effective. At a news conference on Monday, Hill said the
governor’s plan will not properly prioritize how the state should spend its money. She argued that governor uses questionable
accounting methods that will be unnecessarily disruptive to schools and community colleges.
“It reflects little effort to
prioritize and determine which state programs provide essential services or are most critical for California’s future,”
The governor’s plan is a blueprint
for the next 18 months, during which there will be a series of deep spending reductions in government services to bring the
state’s books into balance. From an assessment of this plan, Hill has written a report which analyzes how effective
the spending will be, and where it is flawed.
In declaring the cuts the governor
pulled the trigger for the first time on a little-known provision in “Proposition 58” which passed in March 2004.
The Legislature will have to convene next month to deal with this year’s $1.9 billion budget shortfall. If the Legislature
does not pass legislation in 45 days to address the problem, it cannot act on other bills or adjourn.
Last November the CSU Board of Trustees
approved a budget request to the state for next fiscal year which assumed a $322 million budget increase. The governor’s
proposal, if approved, will mean a budget that is nearly $650 million short of the Trustees projection. The CSU Chancellors
office has suggested the Governor’s cuts will affect the CSU system as follows:
The cuts will reduce access to the CSU. Nearly 10,000 qualified students will be
turned away because the CSU can not financially accommodate them.
The cuts will be detrimental to the state’s economic engine especially in
areas of Nursing, education, and criminal justice. CSU graduates comprise over two-thirds of new workforce entries in these
The cuts will particularly hurt long-time prospects of students from underserved
communities to attend the university.
Meanwhile, the California Faculty
Association (CFA) is also promising to “stand up for the CSU System” in opposing the cuts. CFA points out that
the proposed $312 million in cuts to the CSU system will equate to an $875 drop in per-pupil spending.
“This proposal just doesn’t
add up,” said CFA President Lillian Taiz. “Under this budget, students will again be asked to pay more for their
education while receiving less from the state. Professor Schwarzenegger needs to enroll himself in a remedial math class and
come back with a better budget plan.”
CFA leaders say during the 2002 budget
crisis the CSU was cut by a half billion dollars. The lost funding was never restored and the CSU received $383 million less
in state general funds in 2006/07 than it did in 2002/03 when adjusted for inflation.
The governor’s dramatic budget
found two ardent adversaries suddenly playing on the same team. The press releases from both the California Faculty Association
and Chancellor Charles Reed’s office were practically identical. Only short months ago, the CFA and Reed were bashing
each other over salary contract negotiations. It would be hard to imagine more unlikely allies that the CFA’s Lillian
Taiz and Chancellor Reed. But in the face of the governor’s proposed spending plan, they spoke with one voice appealing
to legislators to maintain vital levels of education support.
Legislature will be addressing the proposed budget cuts in the next 45 days.