CSUN A.S. to draft proposal for tax extensions

Samantha Tata

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A.S. president Amanda Flavin said she plans to create legislative body to lobby for tax extensions that would pour more money into the CSU system. Photo Credit: Herber Lovato / Assistant Photo Editor

A.S. Academic Affairs Committee is drafting a proposal that will be submitted to legislative officials across California in response to the refusal by legislatures to include a tax-extension measure on the June ballot.

Some of the funds from those hypothetical tax extensions would be used to close a $26.6 billion state deficit and siphoned to the CSU system wto avoid further budget cuts.

“Our resolution states CSUN’s support of including tax extensions on the (fall) ballot,” said Johnathan Polus, chair of the senate Academic Affairs Committee.

Polus said the resolution taps into CSUN’s lobbying power, noting that CSUN represents 35,000 voters.

The resolution must be drafted and approved by the May 10 senate meeting, the last of the semester.  Following its approval, the proposal will be sent to CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, Gov. Jerry Brown, California congressional leaders and campuses statewide.

Temporary hikes in personal income tax, sales tax and vehicle license fees were instated in 2009. If these increases are included on a fall ballot and approved, the CSU system would sustain an approximate $500 million budget reduction. That figure could rise to $1 billion if those taxes are not extended.

CSUN Academic Affairs department has been brainstorming ways to mitigate any damage to the campus in the event of a seven-figure budget cut.

One avenue the university may take is to increase the faculty to student ratio, combining more students into classrooms so as to avoid decreasing the numbers of professors while instructing more students, said A.S. President Conor Lansdale, who attended a budget discussion with the provost Tuesday afternoon.

“(The budget) is looking bleak,” he said.  “But Academic Affairs has been thinking about ways to save and generate money.”

An additional $50 million of projected cost increases, such as health care and energy costs, must also be covered, according to a budget update by Tom McCarron, vice president for administration and finance. These non-fixed costs bring the total CSU budget deficit to $550 million.

McCarron noted CSUN’s share of the CSU budget reduction is approximately $24.5 million.

A.S. President-elect Amanda Flavin said she is bracing and preparing to handle significant cuts that may occur during her administration.

“We’re planning on bringing back the legislative affairs branch, which will allow us to do more lobbying in Sacramento,” Flavin said.

Flavin added she hopes the tax initiative will pass in the fall but if it is denied, she will direct increased A.S. attention to the budgets cuts.

“It could be a rough year,” she said.