“We have, on campus now, over $100 million in deferred maintenance needs,” said Stan Nosek, Cal Poly Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance.
Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a $142.2 million increase to the California State University (CSU) budget for 2014-15, but CSU officials said it was only a small step in the right direction.
The CSU asked Brown for a $237.6 million increase despite knowledge of Brown’s $511 million multiyear plan from 2013-14 through 2016-17.
Brown’s proposal must be approved by the California State Legislature, which is unlikely to trim the amount but could add more, Cal Poly Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance Stan Nosek said.
“From the increased good health that the state is in, we think that the $142.2 (million) is solid,” Nosek said. “But we’re hoping that some more will come to us.”
The CSU’s budget shrank by nearly $1 billion starting in 2008, leading to higher tuition, staff layoffs and curbed enrollment, Nosek said.
After years of budget cuts though the recent recession, Brown’s proposal shows California has begun to re-invest into higher education, CSU spokesperson Mike Uhlenkamp said.
“This would mark the second consecutive year where we’re receiving an increase in funding,” Uhlenkamp said. “We’ll continue to advocate on behalf of the CSU.”
The California Faculty Association (CFA), on the other hand, had a less enthusiastic response.
CFA president Lillian Taiz released a statement Monday expressing her disappointment in the relatively small sum.
“While we appreciate the Governor’s recognition that public higher education needs greater investment after years of debilitating budget cuts, his proposal still leaves tens of thousands of California students out in the cold, clamoring for the university education that will help ensure a more prosperous future for our state,” she said.
Though nothing will be finalized until the legislature has its say, Nosek said Cal Poly will likely receive between 4 and 6 percent of the $142.2 million.
Some of the money will likely be used to compensate teachers, some of whom have not seen a raise in five years. Another chunk of cash will be put towards repairs around campus, Nosek said.
The CSU has taken out a $750 million loan for infrastructure and deferred maintenance around the various campuses. Cal Poly plans to use its portion — somewhere between $20 million and $30 million — to replace faulty roofs, air conditioners and hot water distribution systems.
To complete the deal, the CSU will set aside approximately $50 million over the next three or four years. That money will accumulate interest and grow until the $750 million can be paid off a few decades from now.
“If you don’t (take out the loan), the costs will be greater because it costs more when something breaks as opposed to try and fix it before it breaks,” Nosek said. “We have, on campus now, over $100 million in deferred maintenance needs.”
Having more money also means the university can admit more students. No numbers are finalized, but Nosek said Cal Poly could accept around 100 more in-state students next year.
Out-of-state students make less of an impact on the university budget because their tuition and fees go directly to Cal Poly, he said. If California residents attend Cal Poly, a certain amount of the money they pay goes to the CSU system.
“Tuition and fees that come from in-state students, they first go to the chancellor’s office,” Nosek said. “They take out a piece, and we never get out full amount. When you bring an out-of-state student in, you keep it all on the campus.”
Cal Poly also looks for out-of-state or international students to increase diversity on campus, he said. Bringing in people from all over the country and the world results in a campus full of crisscrossing viewpoints and lively debate, Nosek said.
Others argue state universities should serve state residents, not favor outside students. With Brown’s proposal, Cal Poly could have more students from both inside and outside California.
Brown’s proposed policy also negates a previous restriction on who can receive a Cal Grant. In the past, families with heavily fluctuating incomes sometimes lost out on their Cal Grants upon finding wealth, even if it was only temporary.
For instance, a student’s Cal Grant could have been discontinued because one of their parents received a loaded severance package. Brown’s new proposal removed the section on stripping of the grants due to financial changes.