A.S. makes finances top priority

Samantha Tata

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Associated Student’s top priority this semester is finances in light of Governor Brown’s budget cut proposal to the UC and CSU systems.

“It makes me shudder to think that this cut is a best case scenario,” said Tom Piernik, A.S. university advisor during the A.S. meeting.  “The CSU is putting a value on your education, that is the reality of the state’s finances.”

A.S. President Conor Lansdale and Vice President Neil Sanchez said it was their priority to stay informed of the governor’s budget.

Although he declined to make any projections for the coming semester, Lansdale said he will follow the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), a nonpartisan fiscal advisor and state budget watchdog, and provide updates to the AS senate.

In a policy brief from Jan. 24, the LAO stated that the $500 million cut, while large, “does not appear unreasonable given the size of the state’s budget problem.”

The statewide cut, which would affect the UC and CSU systems, is pending voter approval of tax extensions.  Should those extensions be voted down, the budget cut  would be larger.

Despite the projected reduction of funding, the growing student body may offset the loss.

An excess enrollment – that is, when the actual number of AS fee-paying students exceeds the projected figure – would allow AS to increase their amount of allocations.

This semester’s figure will not be available until the fourth week of classes when students are barred from adding or dropping courses.  Due to a low projected figure, a surplus is expected, Lansdale said.

“We are hoping to get more money for our unallocated reserves,” Lansdale said.  “We can then allocate that out to clubs and organizations, of which there are more than ever.”

Director of Finance Vahan Khodanian said that more than 200 clubs are now represented on the CSUN campus and of those 90 percent attended the annual budget meeting to request funding.

The rise in enrollment may be due partially to the economy.

“It is ironic that when the economy is bad, our finances improve,” said David Crandall, A.S. general manager. “Students are going back to school and taking more units because of the economy.”

Although there are more students at a university with apparently less money, Crandall said that this increase translates into funds that support the growing campus body.

“(Because of excess enrollment), we have been able to expand support for student organizations and university programs as well as maintain the quality of established programs,” he said.

Crandall said students are taking more units during this semester than last, a sign that university policy may be making it easier for students to enroll in classes and that students are more diligent.

“The average last semester was 11.2 units, now it’s 11.8,” he said.  “That may not seem like much but a half unit multiplied by 35,000 is 17,000 more classes being taken by the same number of students.”

However, next semester’s enrollment may be affected by any cuts imposed by the governor’s office, despite recently positive numbers.

“I’d advise (the senate) to be conservative,” Crandall said.