The California State University system’s budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year has been decreased by $299 million due to impacts posed by COVID-19, CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White announced Monday.
Long Beach State’s budget has been cut by $22 million, according to President Jane Close Conoley. White said that the CSU is facing a minimum three-year financial and operational challenge, and it is likely that layoffs and furloughs will occur in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
“I am saddened that our future includes layoffs…despite the actions we have implemented to mitigate these circumstances,” White said. “However, I am proud and grateful that this approach is best for our students. While we didn’t escape a budget reduction, it is clear we have successfully and consistently demonstrated our value to the state.”
Provost Brian Jersky and Vice President for Administration and Finance, Scott Apel, said that CSULB is not anticipating any layoffs for the foreseeable future.
“Right now, we are using a combination of operating-expense reductions, a hiring chill, federal CARES Act funding, and the tapping of reserves to the extent this is advisable. It is important to realize that things may change as all of the variables change,” they said in an email to faculty and staff.
During the 2019-20 fiscal year, the CSU was able to build up reserves and received aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act helping to prepare for the shifts coming in the 2020-21 year.
“Due to several important ‘unknowns’ all of our planning is preliminary at this point, even though the fiscal year has begun,” Jersky and Apel said.
These unknowns include whether or not the state implements stricter safer-at-home regulations, the campus may resume normal operations come spring or if the university receives any more federal funding.
“We know that our multiple challenges during this time can be anxiety provoking,” Jersky and Apel said. “We are committed to sharing information with you often. We also want to assure you that we are navigating this complex landscape as thoughtfully as we can, while protecting our educational mission and the success of our students.”
To accommodate the cuts, CSULB won’t be opening all buildings come fall in order to save on energy costs, according to Conoley, and will need to find funds to pay for the mortgages on parking structures, new student housing and other buildings from other sources.
Several on-campus functions are suffering significant revenue losses, including housing, parking, the 49er Shops and the student union, as well as programs such as the international college and athletics.
To reduce expenses, the CSU, along with CSULB, has stopped most hiring as well as sponsored travel using state funds.
“We came out early and boldly with the proper decision to conduct most of our instructional activities virtually, with on-campus instruction only when virtual modalities are infeasible and, then, only with all proper health and safety precautions in place,” White said.
Although campus operational costs have shifted, with energy use decreasing but a prioritization on coronavirus-related expenses such as sanitation, personal protective equipment, facility modifications to include physical distancing, and IT equipment and services, the cost demands of running a CSU still remain high.
Tuition makes up about half of CSULB’s instructional costs, which includes faculty salaries, and Conoley feels cost-cutting will be successful if enrollment “stays strong.”
“We will have to use our reserves over the next three years to the extent possible to keep our essential functions going,” Conoley said. “The most essential thing is to offer our students the classes they need.”