CFA, students protest state budget cuts

Cynthia Gomez

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The California Faculty Association, students and other members of the public gathered Tuesday and Wednesday at the California State University Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach to protest against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed $66 million mid-year budget cut to the CSU system.

‘Cuts have consequences,’ said Theresa Montano, CFA chapter president for CSUN.’ ‘We need make sure for the sake of the state’s economy that we continue to fund the CSU.’

‘Students should really send a message to the governor that this budget cut is impacting students,’ Montano said. ‘We (students and faculty) are not going to sit idly by.”

The proposed mid-year budget cuts comes after the final 2008-2009 budget was $215 million below the CSU’s operational needs for the fiscal year, according to the CSU. The CFA indicates the state has already cut $246 million from 2008-2009 and this budget cut come after a half-billion dollars in funds that were cut five years ago.

‘The Governor is slamming the door closed on the promise of a higher quality of education for an entire generation of students,’ said Lillian Taiz, president of the CFA and a founder of the Alliance for the CSU in a statement Tuesday. ‘This is absolutely unacceptable for California families that have been promised access to a quality, affordable higher education.’

In an interview Wednesday, Taiz called Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposal ‘wrong-headed’ and a ‘long-term, bad consequence for the state.’

‘Public higher education is an engine for prosperity,’ Taiz said. ‘CSU has taken more hits than it can handle.’

‘The system just collapses and (we’ve) got to (move) this budget back to an adequate level so that we could really advance the education, K through 12, the community colleges, as well as the CSU and the universities,’ Lt. Gov. John Garamendi said.

‘Those are the engines for economic growth and social justice in the state and if they’re not running well, if you’re starving them, this state will not prosper and social and economic problems will multiply,’ said Garamendi.

The California State University Board of Trustees approved Tuesday a $5.1 billion budget request to the state for 2009-2010 fiscal year that did not call for student fee hikes, but is projected to change next year because of possible budget cuts in the CSU system and in education funding.

From the approved $5.1 billion budget request, $3.5 billion come from the state General Fund and $1.6 billion from student fee revenue.’

In a statement Tuesday, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed to reduce the CSU’s current year budget by $97.6 million, which includes an earlier requested $31.3 million one-time reduction.

Because state legislators are dealing with a $11.2 billion budget deficit that could increase to $24 billion by 2010, the governor’s proposed budget cut to the CSU would further the reduction for the 2009-2010 academic year because the CSU would turn away 10,000 students and would expect a 10 percent student fee increase to all 23 CSU campuses.

According to CSUN records, applications for fall 2009 are up about 20 percent from last year, of which a record number of applicants are Latinos and blacks.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

‘You know that the students we serve, those poor working class and minority students, for whom this is their entrance into economic stability, will not be able to have the kind of education that we know they deserve.’ said Theresa Montano, CFA chapter president for CSUN, at an all-campus budget summit in March.’ ‘

‘ In a news conference on Monday, Chancellor Charles B. Reed said the CSU would likely enroll 450,000 students for fall 2009, down from 460,000 this fall.

Reed said that he is recommending the enrollment reduction because of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed $66 million mid-year budget cut for the CSU system and more cuts expected for the 2009-2010 academic year.

The chancellor has scheduled a media conference call on Friday to discuss the proposed budget cuts and how that will result in fewer students admitted for next fall.