July 2009 Archives
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have agreed Monday on a budget that would close the $26.3 billion deficit.
The budget includes cutting $6 billion to K-12 schools and community colleges, and $3 billion to the California State University and University of California systems, according to The Associated Press.
Other cuts include $1.2 billion to state prisons and $1.3 billion to Medi-Cal. Other welfare programs would also get cuts, but not eliminated.
The AP also reported that the plan includes three unpaid furlough days till next June for state workers.
The budget has to get two-thirds of the vote in the state Legislature before it becomes final. The vote will take place on Thursday.
With 34 days remaining until classes begin for the fall semester, California State University students will be facing higher prices, less class selection and a longer path toward graduation than any other students in CSU history.
At the board of trustees meeting held today in Long Beach, state representatives voted in favor of a 20 percent fee increases and commended the California State University Employees Union for voting nearly 8-1 in favor of the suggested 24 unpaid furloughs. These budget saving options were in reaction to the $584 million dollar budget gap in the state's $26.3 billion deficit.
"The higher education system is in full retreat," said Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi during the budget meeting. "This is a rapid starvation of California's future."
Garamendi expressed his opinion that the budget cuts could have been avoided had certain taxes been implemented to give the state's schools the money they were searching for. One such tax on his list of possible saving revenues was AB 656. This tax would increase the charge put on oil coming from within California, and Garamendi claimed that with those dollars the cuts would be unnecessary starting "this very year."
Many students and community members in the gallery of the meeting were audibly enraged when the motion to pass AB 656 was swiftly opposed and cries of "shame" could be heard.
Several small groups of students and concerned community members gathered outside the Chancellor's office to protest the budget cuts and shared anecdotes about the crippling effects of rising educations prices. Some even spoke out in the meeting during the open sessions in hopes that it might gain them some votes against the cuts.
"I don't get financial aid and I don't know how I will come up with nearly $1000 dollars," said SF State senior Samantha Adame. "I have friends that have to go to city college now because of the fee increases."
The 20-year-old Literature major says that she is finding these increases even more difficult because she is currently looking for housing and most places in San Francisco require larger deposits than she can afford.
"What the Trustees aren't seeing is that the cost of living is so high too, it isn't just the fees."
The result of passing the pay increases is that full-time undergraduates will pay an additional $672 per year bringing their average tuition price to $4827. The price for non-resident students was also raised $990. These results are all in addition to the 10 percent increase passed this past May.
But the Board's approach to dealing with the budget gap was not focused only on tuition raises and unpaid holidays. Two other great areas of focus were reducing costs and reducing enrollment.
Vice Chair Herbert Carter brought up the idea that the 23 CSU campuses should "encourage students with ample credits to move on." With the CSU system turning away nearly 40,000 prospective students this spring, Carter believes that each person with the credits to graduate should be worked with to expedite their departure.
Not all of the students were opposed to the fee increases or other measures to keep the CSU schools afloat. Members of the California State Student Association were vocal about their understanding of this difficult situation and that they hoped there would be greater efforts in the future to avoid such large cuts.
Chancellor Reed voiced his frustration with having to reduce the benefits going to CSU students in the four-prong plan.
"We have a four-part plan and each of the four parts are bad," said Reed as he explained that he and the other Trustees were trying to spread the cuts out as thinly as they could.
Students currently with financial aid may not be affected by these fee increases as Pell Grants and other packages will pick up most of the difference but the CSU financial committee expects that their may be delays or re-packaging that will have to be done.
While the decisions for these fee increases and furloughs have been made, what is left undetermined is how drastically costs will be cut on health services, maintenance or landscaping and whether the other school unions will accept furloughs or face sizable layoffs. Chancellor Reed has extended their deadline to decide until the end of the business day on July 28.
SF State students are once again headed to Long Beach to protest the latest round of budget cuts to higher education. The group United Against CSU Budget Cuts, a loose confederation of students, will host a planning meeting at SF State July 9 to prepare for protests at the Board of Trustees Meeting later this month.
The new budget, "will rob $36 million from SF State and $580 million from the CSU system" according to a statement by the group. Protesters intend to "disrupt the Board of Trustees Meeting along with at least 6 other Southern California State Universities [...] We will be heard!"
Supporters will meet at SF State on July 9 at 2 p.m. The group will host at least one other planning meeting before the Board of Trustees convenes on July 21.
For more information, contact Honorah Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org