Just hours after California Governor Jerry Brown released his budget plan on Jan. 10, members of the Cal State system were quick to criticize. Brown’s plan offered to allocate $92.1 million toward the California State University system, an amount that many in the university system agree is unsustainable.
“If lawmakers truly believe in the goal to make college available to every eligible high school graduate or community college transfer student living in their districts, they will need to devise a more robust funding plan and renew the state’s commitment to fully funding public higher education, keeping it affordable and accessible to all qualified students,” campus president Jane Close Conoley said in a press release.
For 2018-19, the operating budget increases for the university system requires $263 million from the general fund and $19.9 million from student enrollment. Brown’s current proposed budget, which contributes to the Cal State general fund, falls short by $170.9 million.
The operating budget includes:
- $75 million for Graduation Initiative 2025
- $122.1 million for compensation for faculty and staff
- $39.9 million for a 1 percent increase in funded enrollment
- $15 million in academic facilities and infrastructure needs
- $30.9 mil. for mandatory costs, which include benefits packages for employees
Elizabeth Chapin, manager of public affairs for the Cal State, said the allocations are inadequate for sustainable funding.
“[The governor’s proposal is] half the rate of inflation and it’s about $61 million short of what we need to cover the compensation increases for faculty and staff and also our mandatory cost increases,” Chapin said.
Douglas Domingo-Foraste, Long Beach chapter president of the California Faculty Association and professor of comparative literature and classics, called the governor “pennywise” and “pound foolish” after hearing of his inadequate budget.
“It’s really the CSUs who educate the vast majority of students in California that get hurt,” Domingo-Foraste said. “[The governor] pushes money into the rainy day fund but doesn’t see the need for college-educated populace in the future.”
According to Conoley, the university received 103,000 applications for the 2018 fall semester. If the university isn’t given more funding, it would be “forced to turn away tens of thousands” students eligible for the Cal State system.
“The funding for the system is close to pre-recession levels and the CSU consistently is asked to do more with less,” Conoley said.
Chapin said there were two alternatives that could happen if the governor does not fund the university’s full operating budget: increasing tuition for students or budget cuts on the campuses.
Domingo-Foraste suggests a cut in administration, citing their imbalanced higher pay compared to faculty and staff.
“I would hope that they would see the priority of faculty because administrators don’t teach students and they get paid a lot more than we do,” Domingo-Foraste said. “We hire these administrators who really don’t have enough to do, so they make work for other people… So I think there’s going to be a strong push to cut administration both by us and the legislature.”
The final budget will be revealed and adopted in June. Until then, the California Faculty Association will be lobbying the California legislature for more funding.