Promising Budget Yields Mixed Results
September 27, 2006 4:04 PM
California’s improved budget picture is a mixed bag for CSU students and faculty.
Some programs have been cut, others have received permanent funding for the first time, and money has been set aside for faculty raises, but university and faculty negotiations have broken down, leaving the staff without a contract.
Last year SF State was allotted more than $143 million, and this year the allotment has been increased by more than $12 million, according to Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget Web site.
CSU as a whole received a $140 million increase, making the entire allotment for the state schools more than $2.5 billion.
Despite the extra money, some programs continue to feel a squeeze.
The international program, which sends students abroad and brings students to CSU campuses from around the world, has been cut by $439,000, and the summer arts program has been cut by $43,000 statewide this year.
Because programs such as summer arts, which aren’t held at most campuses, and the international program, which doesn’t pertain to most students, aren’t new programs and don’t have high demand, they were prime candidates for cuts, according to the Web site.
“Two important principles are at the base of CSU budget decisions and allocations,” said Keith Boyum, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs for CSU. “The first is that dollars follow instruction.”
This ensures that ongoing needs and obligations are met first. Then, the needs of new and previously under-funded programs are addressed.
One ongoing obligation that may actually see an increase is faculty salaries.
“The 2006/2007 budget provides an average 3.6 percent for salary increases,” said Clara Potes-Fellow, CSU director of media relations. “The effective salary increase for represented employees and faculty is negotiated by the union with the administration.”
But, so far, the CSU faculty has not negotiated any raises. In fact, they still don’t have a contract.
“Every two years the CFA signs a contract with the CSU to determine their salaries for the next two years,” said Sue Pak, union representative for SF State.
“Last year our contract ended,” said Pak. “We meet every month or so, but as of July, we weren’t able to agree on a salary. If we find that there is no way to move in any direction with the other side, a legal mediator will step in and decide our salary.”
Also, while raises may be in the cards, faculty retirement benefits have been hit hard.
According to the budget Web site, there has been a huge downgrade in campus employee retirement funds. There is less funding because of a scale back in employer-paid contributions. How much will be paid out will be negotiated by the CSU and the union.
However, CSU administrators said the retirement package is fair.
“Faculty retirement is on the Public Employee Retirement System, PERS,” said Potes-Fellow, “which is among the most generous in the nation.”
Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal acknowledges that the cause for strain on the CSU budget is the growing number of applicants wanting to attend California universities. Because of this, Schwarzenegger laid out a new “marginal cost methodology,” which will enable a growth in attendance on CSU campuses, without passing the cost on to in-state students.
“The methodology proposed by the Governor recognizes that non-resident students fully fund their instructional cost, and funds growth-related maintenance to the plant,” according to the budget Web site.
With the 2006/2007 budget, all student fees will go directly into funding the growth of educational programs.
Last year there was a cut of one-time funds for outreach programs provided by the CSU system, which allotted $7 million to make these programs possible. However, this year’s budget increase calls for the permanent reinstatement of these funds.
Also, the new budget is allotting $7.1 million to fund the CSU Outreach/Center for California Studies program.
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