System Faces Reduction if Voters Reject Governor’s Tax Proposal
(March 20, 2012) – If Governor Brown’s tax initiative is not passed by the voters in November, the 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. Those were among the options that the CSU Board of Trustees heard about as the system tries 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,” said 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% 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% 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,” said 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.