Tuition will not be raised for Spring semester though trigger cuts likely

Andrew Lopez

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Students will not be asked for more tuition to make up for what have been described as inevitable trigger cuts, set to slash another $100 million from California higher education if the state does not meet expected revenues by December, said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.

“I think the trigger will get pulled,” Reed said at the Sept. 21 board of trustees meeting. “I met with presidents two weeks ago and, frankly, we’re going to spend down to nothing almost.”

Effects of cutting spending could include fewer classes and possible staff layoffs, as was the case in 2009, said Liz Chapin, CSU spokeswoman.

Expecting $4 billion in revenue may have been too confident an assumption when lawmakers included the anticipated funds in the July budget, said Robert Turnage, CSU assistant vice chancellor for budget.

“It was a bit of a leap of faith” Turnage said. “It’s hard to get terribly optimistic about the situation.”

Though revenues in August were $560 million below projected figures, a surge in funds could undo the potential cuts, said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the California Department of Finance.

“Things swing back and forth pretty quickly,” he said. “It’s too early to tell.”

The coming months will provide a clearer picture of whether CSU’s and UC’s total cuts for this fiscal year will stay at $650 million.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office, which provides nonpartisan financial advice for the state legislature, files a fiscal outlook report once a year in November. The report focuses on the outlook of the California budget, including revenues and expenses for the state.

The financial outlook report will be the first strong indicator of whether or not expected revenues for the state will be met, Palmer said.

The Department of Finance, which serves as Gov. Jerry Brown’s chief fiscal policy advisor, will file their own report by December.

Ana J. Matosantos, director of finance, will choose the higher projected state revenue estimate. If the higher estimate is still more than $1 billion short of the $87.4 billion the state budget had hoped for, the trigger cut will be enforced no later than Dec. 15, Palmer said.

Matosantos can use her own discretion as to how much of the potential $100 million will be cut from the CSU and UC systems, Turnage said.

Though Reed expressed disappointment with the uncertainty of the situation, he urged state legislators to begin putting money back into colleges and universities.

“What I’m worried about is (how state legislators) could treat it, because of the economy and downturn in revenue as a recurring cut,” Reed said. “I sure hope that this state leadership makes the decision to start investing in higher education.”