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Karen Garcia
Special to Mustang News

Higher education has been in a rough financial situation since the economic crash in 2008, as it has experienced funding cuts and a lack of resources.

California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees believed there was still a chance to begin rebuilding a new foundation for the universities and student success when they requested a $216.6 million increase in state support last November.

In the beginning of January, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the request and proposed a budget increase for education of only $119.5 million, about $100 million short of the initial request.

If Gov. Brown’s budget is accepted, CSU campuses will only be allowed a 1 percent increase in student enrollment rather than a 3 percent increase they would have had if the initial request was accepted.

Gov. Brown created the budget with the intention of increasing the student success rate, but many critics believe this budget increase is not enough to create another foundation if budget cuts were made, or for an increase in
student enrollment.

The big focus

Looking at the big picture, California Faculty Association (CFA) Board of Directors President Lillian Taiz said that before the budget can be analyzed the focus must be in favor of the students and student success.

“It’s like any other budget in your household or if you’re a student out there trying to make ends meet,”  she said. “You have to figure out what your central goal is and then you have to direct your resources there.”

Many students and their families are not able to help fund the university they attend.

A proposition was approved a few years ago in order to manage the funding for the universities and put a cap on student tuition.

According to an article in the  Los Angeles Times, Gov. Brown proposed Proposition 30, a measure approved by state voters in 2012 that would help increase funding for public California universities.

The funds for the universities would temporarily come from the tax revenue of people that earn more than $250,000.

This is just one factor helping to fill the gap created by budget cuts, but what continues to be criticized is the fact that the funds are still not enough to expand the enrollment for incoming students.

The graduation initiative

In his State of the CSU address, California State University System Chancellor Timothy White presented a 10-year graduated initiative for the CSU system and addressed the significant lack of funding higher education is receiving.

“I must agree with the governor, again, that students should not be the default financiers of higher education,” he said. “But the historical financiers of higher education — the people of California — are ill-served if their public universities crumble due to lack of sufficient investment.”

In his address, he said that the 10–year graduation initiative is focused on improving and increasing the four-year graduation and transfer rates by 2025.

White said that by combining state appropriation and student tuition, a degree earned is $8,000 less than it was 10 years ago.

On the other hand, CSU students earned 20,000 more degrees this year than 10
years ago.

“That is 20,000 more educated workers and contributors to society per year, helping to meet the state’s economic and social bottom lines,” White said.

In order to fulfill the graduation initiative, White said the state needs to do it’s part to help resource this goal and help see it become a reality.

Watch the State of the CSU address:

YouTube video

What can students do?

“But let’s be real: shared success will only come from a shared commitment,” White said. “State and university, faculty and staff, students and alumni, trustees and elected leaders.”

The budget is designed for student success and providing students with more resources to benefit their future goals.

The main issue is being able to afford the university that a student wishes to attend without being buried under student loan debt.

Taiz believes that the students, as well as faculty, must make their voices heard and their needs known.

There is still time to start brainstorming ideas and alternatives for the budget, as the revised version of the governor’s budget proposal will be released in May.

In the end, Taiz said that the focus of the budget should be on the students because these are the people who will go out into the workforce and make the State prosperous.

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