The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Board of trustees discuss long-term funding plan for CSU system

A sparsely attended board of trustees meeting Tuesday in Long Beach addressed potential problems the CSU is facing with Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent budget proposal.

The long-term funding plan for the CSU proposed by Brown would begin increasing general funds by 4 percent each year starting fiscal year 2013-2014, if his tax initiative passes in November.

“Remember that the 4 percent is being multiplied against a general fund base that has essentially crashed from $3 billion (in state funding) down to ($)2 (billion),” said Robert Turnage, CSU assistant vice chancellor for budget.

Under Brown’s plan, the first increase in CSU funding beginning 2013-2014 would total $88 million, then move up to $92 million in 2014-2015, slowly compounding each year.

Still, the increase in funds would cover only some of the issues currently facing the CSU.

“We have had several years of not being able to provide any general salary increases. The cost of a 3 percent increase for our employees is $85 million a year,” Turnage said. “That one element would use up all of an $88 million increment.”

The committee on finance spent the bulk of their meeting time to discuss Brown’s recent budget proposal for fiscal year 2012-2013 that, in a best-case scenario, would not reduce the CSU’s budget any further.

“The proposed budget fails to restore any of the $750 million that was cut out of our budget this year,” said Benjamin Quillian, executive vice chancellor.

Brown’s proposed budget rests on the hopes that a measure raising taxes on high-income earners and increasing state sales tax will generate about $7 billion in revenue yearly. If Californians vote against the tax measure, another $200 million could be cut from the CSU, bringing a total loss of $950 million over the last two years.

“If additional cuts are made, the consequences for the CSU will be grave,” Quillian said. “Access, affordability and quality could be threatened like never before.”

CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said campus presidents would meet in February to begin building a model for the potential $200 million cut.

“I want us to plan for the worst-case scenario going into (2012-2013),” Reed said. “The next time this board meets in March, we want to give you a feel for what that might look like on our campuses and in the Chancellor’s Office.”

Contingency plans discussed by Reed included the possibility of employee layoffs and more tuition increases. Reed said he hoped the worst-case model would give options with how to deal with the possible reduction in state funding.

“I think the more options you give us, the better,” Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “As a deliberative body, that’s all I look for is those trade-offs as opposed to a limited choice.”

Reed went on to say he’d been receiving calls from campus presidents saying they were operating at structural deficits, meaning they were using one-time money from reserves to cover campus costs.

They are out there living off of hot air, so to speak, for next year,” Reed said. “I don’t know, frankly, where in the hell we’re going to go, but something is going to have to give.”

Protesters and students were noticeably absent at the meeting after the Nov. 17 board meeting that ended in four arrests and a shattered glass front door. Police presence was heavy outside the Chancellor’s Office, including both California State University and Long Beach police.

“I’m happy to say, hopefully, we will have a quiet finance committee meeting today,” said William Hauck, board member and chair for the committee on finance. “Lately, seemingly, that’s a rarity.”

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