If you haven’t heard by now, the California state budget is going down the tubes. Years of budget stalemate between the Democratic and Republican parties (yes, they are both to blame) has led to the passage of the latest budget in California’s history (85 days after the July 1 deadline). Additionally, the legislature failed to balance the budget.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office says the department of the state of California that provides impartial analysis of the California budget and other major pieces of legislation, the 2008-2009 California budget is $103.4 billion, but the state will only receive revenues of $101.9 billion. Which means our elected officials started $1.5 billion in the hole when the year began.
To add insult to injury, the recent economic downturn caused the state to not meet projected tax revenue targets. The state is now scrambling to fix a budget deficit of $11.4 billion dollars. But this opinion isn’t about the state budget; it’s about the CSU budget.
First let me address the ‘cuts’ to education. Funding for education has increased 85 percent in the last 10 years. It has never been cut. Whenever a teacher tells you funding is being cut, it means they are receiving less money than they requested through the state budgeting process. Their requested budget is a ‘wish list’ and the ‘cuts’ are actually increases over the previous year’s funding levels.
The CSU Board of Trustees recently gave input to the CSU chancellor who has proposed a cut of $66 million dollars to the CSU. The chancellor has the authority to make the cut without the input of the Board of Trustees, but in the spirit of inclusion and collaboration chose to host a public opportunity for feedback on the plan.
The CSU has been over enrolled for years. The CSU Compact, an agreement the governor has with the CSU chancellor, provides funding for a 2.5 percent increase annually throughout the CSU. If the CSU goes above that the state provides no money.’
Additionally, if schools don’t meet their targets, the state takes away the funding for each student under the target enrollment. Despite this lack of funding, the CSU has been growing at a rate closer to 4 percent annually.
A campus administrator once explained it to me like this:
The CSU projects the cost to educate a student at roughly $12,000 a year. Of that amount, $8,000 is provided for in state funding through the CSU Compact and $4,000 comes from the student’s tuition. If we go over the CSU Compact target enrollment we only collect the $4,000 in tuition but incur the $12,000 in expense. Meaning, by enrolling the additional 1,000 students above CSUN’s growth target, we generate a negative cash flow of $8 million dollars, compared to if we only enrolled the amount we were supposed to.’
By reducing the CSU’s enrollment next year the chancellor is bringing the enrollment for the system back in line with the state’s target growth. What happens to those students who get denied from CSUN, you ask? They can go to one of the under-enrolled CSUs, such as the Dominguez Hills, East Bay, or San Marcos campuses.
The reason why the California Faculty Association protests what’s happened isn’t because they care about the students I assure you (although I am sure some do). If the CSU has less students enroll, there are less teachers teaching classes and less dues being paid to the union. The purpose of the California Faculty Association, according to their website, is to be ‘the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the California State University faculty. In that role CFA negotiates a contract with the CSU administration for the faculty, promotes academic freedom, upholds faculty rights, delivers financial protection for the faculty, and promotes faculty participation in the governance of the CSU and of CFA.’ You don’t notice the word student in their once. The purpose of the union is to perpetuate the existence of the Union.
In a perfect world, where the faculty union didn’t have a stranglehold over the CSU and the state’s elected officials, the waste that exists in the university bureaucracy would be cut out and the budget would be balanced. In the real world, tuition will go up at least 10 percent either this spring or next fall.