The California State University system could undergo a $500 million budget cut, according to Governor Jerry Brown’s 2011-12 state budget proposal released Monday.
In an e-mail statement released soon after the proposal, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed, University of California President Mark Yudof and California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott voiced their dissent over the cuts.
“Now is not the time to shrink public higher education, but to grow it,” they wrote. “The road to recovery from this recession and prosperity far beyond it runs straight through our many campuses. These universities are the economic engines of California.”
CSU media specialist Erik Fallis agreed. Fallis said the proposed budget cut would create a significant impact on California and students looking to attend a state university.
“Consider what this does to us,” Fallis said. “The $500 million cut puts us at $2.2 billion in funding. This is the same level we were in during the 1999-2000 fiscal year, but we have 70,000 more students. Coming after the huge number of cuts we have had in past years, we are looking at serious impacts on (the) state economy, on students wishing to enter the university and students already at the university.”
Even so, Fallis said the projected $500 million is a “best-case scenario.” In addition to the budget cut proposal, Brown has also proposed to continue the tax extensions set to expire at the end of the fiscal year. According to the press release from the CSU Chancellor’s Office, he plans to hold a special June election for voters but if it does not pass, the actual amount cut from the system could be higher.
The reduction, which will cut the current budget by 18 percent, comes after the budget was partially restored in late 2010, according to the press release. These cuts may sound familiar to some — in 2009 the CSU system underwent a $625 million budget cut, causing increased tuition fees, shrunken enrollment and furloughs.
With the most recent cuts barely a year in the past, students can’t forget how they were previously impacted.
Karla Lazalde, a liberal studies sophomore, said although furloughs seemed nice, students weren’t able to get the information or time needed in class. As a result, she said, students suffer.
Amid the recent proposal, Lazalde said she worries about other ways in which the school will attempt to combat the restricted budget.
“It’s already getting harder for people to pay tuition because it keeps getting higher, and it’s probably just going to get higher,” Lazalde said. “And I know some people don’t get financial aid like I do, so they won’t be able to pay.”
Although previous budget cuts have been partially remedied by furloughs and tuition increases, Fallis said the CSU system has not yet decided how it will combat the reduced budget.
“It is a very large cut,” Fallis said. “There are a lot of options to consider, so there are no options that are off the table at this point. We can’t project which options we will implement at this time.”
But no matter what route the CSU system decides to take, not all students are going to be happy.
Theatre arts sophomore Cadence Mitchell said with the rising cost of tuition, students in the next generation of college hopefuls are going to be left out.
“I think it sucks,” Mitchell said. “Yes, the economy is bad, but we’re the next generation and if we can’t pay the rising cost of education, we’re not going to be able to get one.”
In addition to state universities, Brown has also proposed a $500 million cut from the University of California system and a $400 million cut from the California Community Colleges. The proposed budget cut from the state’s community colleges will be even worse for them, Mitchell said, because many students who attend community colleges do so because they cannot afford a state university.
“It’s just as stupid for them to cut community college funding,” Mitchell said. “While it’s not a four-year university, it is still people trying to get an education, and a lot of the time, community colleges have students who can’t afford the high tuition at a four-year, but deserve the same education just as much.”
Total, Brown’s proposed budget will reduce support for state-funded higher education institutions by approximately $1.4 billion. The Chancellor’s press release said, combined, the University of California system, the California State University system and the California Community Colleges educate 3.5 millions students across the state.