CSU prepares contingency plan in case tax extensions aren’t approved

The Board of Trustees has outlined a contingency plan to battle a proposed “all cuts” budget that includes wait listing student applications and increasing tuition by 32 percent in addition to the 10 percent already approved for 2011-12 school year.

The contingency plan as it stands now includes ways to combat an additional $500 million cut bringing the CSU deficit to $1 billion.

In a press release sent out May 10, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said the tax extensions are necessary to keep the cost of tuition down and he will continue to advocate in Sacramento.

“We need to ensure that our students still receive a quality education, that we preserve the institution and that a degree from the CSU maintains value,” Reed said.

The press release also stated that “the worst case scenario” could mean the CSU turns away 20,000 qualified applicants.

Applications will be accepted for the winter and spring terms but universities will not make any decisions until the final state budget is announced.

“Raising tuition is always a painful choice,” Reed said. “But we would be faced with just trying to keep our classroom doors open.”

With major concerns over the state of California’s financial future, CSUN has begun outlining its plan for the 2011-12 school year budget.

Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Tom McCarron released a plan for the next year.

“We typically start planning in the fall of the prior year and start refining our plans after the governor releases his initial budget recommendation in early January,” McCarron said in an email interview.

In a letter addressed to faculty and staff on April 21, McCarron stressed the importance of upcoming ballot tax measures that would greatly affect the CSU and other state funded areas.

“The tax extensions are very important to our funding,” McCarron said. “These extensions are the primary elements of the governor’s proposed solution to resolve California’s remaining $15.4 billion deficit.”

McCarron said if the extensions do not end up on the ballot or are not passed, public higher education could face additional cuts to the already large sum of cuts of $550 million.

McCarron said CSUN will be impacted and it “will ultimately be contingent upon CSU system wide strategies” to combat the budget reductions.

McCarron cited Senator Alex Padilla’s message from the April 22 CSU: In the Next 50 years conference, of contacting legislators when it comes to citizens voting on the matter.

“Get out and vote if and when the tax extensions are included in a ballot measure,” McCarron said to students wanting to get involved in state-level decisions.

In McCarron’s letter to faculty and staff, he outlined budget reduction strategies that the campus is considering.

“Reducing divisional budgets cuts by 5 percent,” McCarron said. “These divisionals include academic affairs, administration and finance, student affairs, information technology and university advancement.”

Another strategy CSUN is considering is using funds held in reserve from the past year’s budget.

“The reserves are approximately 10 percent of our total budget, which is a little more than one month’s total expenses,” McCarron said. “I really can’t conjecture on where they would go first. These reserves provide us flexibility, and a little time, for dealing with the final budget.”

Telephone calls and emails to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office about the tax extensions were not returned.

CSUN A.S. President-Elect Amanda Flavin said she hopes that budget cuts are relatively mild.

“In Sacramento, they are looking at an all cuts budget,” Flavin said. “That would mean a $1 billion cut to the CSUs. The tax extensions are hoping to mitigate some of that damage.”

Flavin said the governor was hoping to have these measures on a June ballot but neither the Republican or Democrat parties of the Legislature could agree.

Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley) is the Chair of Assembly Budget Committee commented on the situation.

“I am opposed to the idea of an all cuts budget because it would devastate our state colleges and price tuition out of reach for many students,” Blumenfield said. “The governor releases his revised budget on May 16 and we do not yet know what approach he will take to solving the remaining $15 billion deficit. As the Legislature reviews what the governor proposes, I encourage students to get involved and speak out.”