California State University trustees outline future budget cuts

LONG BEACH
March 20, 2012 9:01pm
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•  But then give raises to two incoming campus presidents

•  Legislature to consider tighter controls on trustees


If Governor Jerry Brown's tax initiative is not passed by the voters in November, California State University will face more budget cuts, and that will mean slashing enrollment, laying off employees, reducing classes and the elimination of academic programs, the CSU Board of Trustees is being told.

So with a potential financial meltdown hovering, the board approved higher pay for two incoming campus presidents – $324,500 plus housing and a $12,000 per year car allowance for the next CSU Fullerton president and $303,660 plus $60,000 per year housing and $12,000 per year car allowance for the new CSU East Bay president.

On Wednesday, the state Senate Committee on Education will consider legislation authored by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, to prohibit pay raises for top university administrators during bad budget years or within two years of a student fee increase.

The committee will also consider SB 952 (Alquist) which would protect the status quo for CSU and allow 10 percent hikes for their executives in perpetuity.

“When the students are suffering, CSU should not be handing out such exorbitant executive compensation,” says Mr. Yee.

This past year, the CSU Board of Trustees raised fall tuition twice – by 9.6 percent and then again by 12 more percent.

The CSU system is trying to plan for a potential $200 million "trigger" cut from the state that would take effect in the middle of the academic year if voters do not approve the Governor's tax proposal in November.

"Increases in student tuition fees have not made up for drastic state funding cuts to the CSU," says Robert Turnage, CSU assistant vice chancellor for budget. "The university system is still a half-billion dollars in the hole, and if this trigger cut goes into effect, we will be at the same level of state funding as 1996, but serving 90,000 more students."

State support for the CSU has been cut by almost $1 billion or 33 percent over the past four years, with student tuition increases covering only about half of the lost revenue. To fill the budget hole, CSU has implemented numerous cost cutting measures, as well as increased efficiencies.

Over the past four years, CSU has decreased the total number of faculty and staff by over 3,000 or 6.6 percent of its workforce. In addition, class sizes have increased, faculty have been asked to teach more, and administrative functions are being consolidated. Despite these efforts and more, university officials warn that further measures are necessary.

"We must consider other drastic options if our budget is cut again," says Mr. Turnage. "Those would include reducing enrollment, cutting the number of classes that are offered, and further reductions in the size of CSU’s workforce. By the 2013-14 academic year, these reductions could involve another 2,500 to 3,000 faculty and staff. These are terrible choices, and we will need to start making many decisions before we know the outcome of the election."

CSU plans to cut enrollment for 2013-2014 by 20,000 to 25,000 students, first by closing most of its campuses for spring admissions. Eight CSU campuses will take applications only for community college transfer students who complete the Associate Degree for Transfer, which was made possible through recent legislation (Senate Bill 1440). In addition, CSU plans to waitlist all eligible students applying for fall 2013 until after the November 6 election when the outcome of the Governor's tax measure is known.

In order to assure that all enrolled students have fair access to the limited supply of courses, limits will be set on the number of courses students can take. Students will be able to take 15 to 17 credits each term, depending on the type of courses involved. Exceptions will be allowed for graduating seniors.

The board of trustees also reviewed the impact of the Governor's proposed changes to the Cal-Grant program, which would increase GPA requirements for recipients. Approximately 8,000 newly enrolled CSU students would be affected in the first year, with more and more students impacted in subsequent years.

The students impacted would still have financial needs, and the loss of Cal-Grant funding would put added pressure on CSU financial aid resources such as state university grants. CSU already provides $700 million in state university grant aid, and currently cannot meet all student needs


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