Proposition 1A raises concerns

Ashley Gordon

As California residents prepare to vote in the May 19 statewide special election, one proposition among a cluster involving the budget has created concern among faculty and students within the California State University (CSU) system.

Proposition 1A, along with 1B through 1E, was approved to appear on the ballot by a two-thirds vote in the California legislature and the support of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Proposition 1A will limit state spending and increase the ‘rainy day’ fund.

The ‘rainy day’ fund works as a reserve for future spending and if 1A is passed would increase the fund from five percent to 12.5 percent.

‘It’s the worst possible scenario,’ said Tom Hogen-Esch, a CSUN political science faculty member. ‘If they’re (voters) concerned about higher education in California they’ll vote against 1A.’

‘A portion of the annual deposits into that fund would be dedicated to savings for future infrastructure, and debt repayment, or for use in a declared emergency,’ reads the special election voter information guide’s entry summarizing 1A.

Concerns are impacted by the fact that the CSU system is facing an additional $50 million budget cut for 2009-2010 since the federal stimulus package didn’t provide the $10 million needed to prevent further cuts.

University President Jolene Koester stated on her blog that CSUN’s portion of this reduction would be approximately $3.5 million.

By way of e-mail, Harry Hellenbrand, CSUN provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, expressed how these potential cuts would impact students.

‘Inevitably we will have fewer sections,’ he said. ‘Already we have been ordered to reduce enrollment by five percent.’

Hellenbrand said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed argues CSUN is underfunded by 1,800 full-time equivalent students.

The CSU Board of Trustees voted to endorse Propositions 1A through 1E stating on their Web site that, ‘Several of the measures would redirect existing revenues dedicated to specific purposes including the state’s lottery, mental health and early childhood programs in order to help balance the state General Fund budget.’

The California Faculty Association (CFA) is opposed to 1A because it requires a spending cap.

‘Prop 1A would institutionalize more than 10 years of cuts to the CSU with no prospect of substantially increasing state funding to the university,’ the CFA said on their official Web site.

Hogen-Esch said voters might not completely understand this proposition when deciding how to vote as he himself struggled to grasp it.

‘This issue is very complex stuff,’ Hogen-Esch said. ‘Voters may become confused.’
Hogen-Esch added that he has already felt the effects of such cuts to CSUN.

‘There are cuts already to the summer schedule,’ Hogen-Esch said. ‘My class was cut this summer.’

He said the cut to his summer class reduces his salary by $7,000.

This is just the beginning, according to Hogen-Esch who said we are operating with a bare bones budget and that we will begin to cut through the bones in the next few years.
Students for Quality Education (SQE), a student coalition at CSUN has sent two of their members to Sacramento to lobby against Proposition 1A.

SQE member Alejandro Hernandez, 19, said the proposition was proposed last minute by the governor and was written in such a way that leads a person to question what the proposition is geared towards.

‘Don’t vote for something that you can’t understand. It has a hidden message,’ said Hernandez.

Hellenbrand said he believes people will be split on the propositions pertaining to the budget.

In the meantime, he noted that CSUN has planned appropriately and will cope with the budget situation by helping students find substitutions.

For more information about Propositions 1A through 1E visit: