Governor Brown proposes flat budget for 2012-2013
Published: Monday, January 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 15:01
With no changes in regards to state financial support for the California State University system, Governor Jerry Brown's 2012-2013 budget proposal is prompting backlash from the CSU. The proposal, however, is not the worst-case scenario.
"The Governor's flat budget is based on the assumption that his tax increase proposal will be approved by the voters in November," said Sonoma State President Ruben Armiñana. "If it is not passed, then there is another $200 million trigger for CSU, $4.6 million for SSU."
This means reduction of classes, further consolidation and elimination of administrative functions, reduction of employment by attrition, no hiring of additional faculty and cuts past the bone. It would also include reduction in enrollment and probably additional fee increases, according to Armiñana.
The current level of allocated funding is the lowest California has seen in 15 years, even though enrollment has increased by roughly 90,000 students since then. CSUs, including Sonoma State, cannot use reserves to help alleviate symptoms of the fiscal crisis, since the money was used —$2.3 million for SSU — as a one-time thing and no longer exists as a resource.
According to Erik Fallis, a representative of the CSU chancellor's office, the ramifications regarding a pass or not on Brown's proposal are hard to predict. In situations like this, it has become a pattern to put the brunt on the students and the reality of last semester's mid-year cut is just now going to start setting in. While it is never the preference of the CSU system to raise tuition, according to Fallis, it is something that cannot be ruled out.
"Our key mission is to provide affordable access, but if you don't have the quality it's meaningless," said Fallis. "The state of California has radically shifted the burden to the students."
Associated Students Inc., in conjuncture with the California State Student Association, has been working on a campaign tailored for this situation. In a project referred to as "The Bucks Start Here," all governing bodies of CSU campuses will collect mock bills that are "worth" $750 million with Brown's face on them to represent this year's reduction for the CSUs of the same amount.
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to write their stories on the bills and on Feb. 23, Sonoma's bills will be collected in a giant plastic box. Each CSU campus will have their own bills decorated in individual school colors so by the end of the campaign, around the March for March movement, the box will be a kaleidoscope of messages to Brown.
At Sonoma State, Associated Students will begin tabling, speaking in classes and handing out the bills for the campus community to sign in February.
"This is a CSU-wide issue and the big thing needed is unity," said Alex Boyar, president of AS. "The government does not see the CSU as a priority."
While Boyar says the university is completely behind the students, nothing official has been declared to show an act of unity by the administration. Overall though, the general message being given by the CSU system is that administrators, faculty and students alike are planning to fight back against the current treatment of the school system.