President's Letter to the Campus Community
CSULB Students, Faculty and Staff:
On January 10, Governor Brown released his proposed 2011–12 state budget addressing an estimated $26 billion budget deficit. The Governor"s proposal included a $500 million reduction in state support to the CSU. This budget would bring state support for the CSU to a level equivalent to 1999–2000 levels even though the university system currently serves nearly 70,000 more students. CSULB's share of a $500 million CSU reduction is estimated to be approximately $34 million, plus an additional $4 million to cover our share of systemwide unfunded mandatory increases for employee health benefits and increased energy costs.
Unfortunately, with the recent breakdown of budget talks in Sacramento, the "budget reduction" scenario described above is even more unlikely and a much more dire scenario now appears probable. The Governor"s original budget plan assumed that the citizens of California would get the opportunity to vote in June on a five–year extension of three existing taxes. However, because the legislature did not approve placing the tax extensions before the voters, the Governor has said that an "all cuts" budget solution is possible, resulting in doubling reductions to state agencies, including higher education institutions. In this scenario, CSULB's anticipated $34 million cut mentioned above would become $68 million – a devastating reduction. To provide a context, our entire state appropriation for 2010–11 was $170 million.
A reduction of $68 million in state support represents almost a 40 percent cut in state funding from the current year. A reduction of this magnitude in a single year will undoubtedly reduce classes and services for current students and severely limit access for students seeking admission into CSULB. While we will do everything possible to minimize these impacts on students, the reality is that there is no pain–free way to accomplish spending reductions of this magnitude.
If this higher level of funding reductions must be faced, we are gravely concerned about our ability to continue to provide the same level and quality of educational services to our students. I believe it is critical that everyone understands the full impact to the campus should this higher level of funding reduction be imposed and the tax extension option does not go before the voters. A $68 million state cut to CSULB would result in the following:
To better understand what a 40 percent reduction means to CSULB, this type of cut is equivalent to eliminating four of our seven academic colleges as well as many administrative services such as the Financial Aid Office, Disabled Student Services, student health services, and career development. A budget cut of this magnitude is unacceptable, especially in a state that ranks 12th in the nation in per capita personal income.
More than ever, higher education has become the state"s main economic driver, and we cannot sustain or improve our economy without a highly educated workforce. We also understand the massive budgetary challenges facing our state, which offer us no simple solutions. However, if we are to move forward as a state, we must be able to differentiate between state investments and state expenditures. If we treat California"s children and students as simple state expenditures, much like prison expenditures, and do not recognize the long–term investment value that ultimately benefits all Californians, then we will never have the kind of workforce needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy. California must produce a workforce ready and able to contribute to a healthy and growing economy.
CSULB continues to be a national model of what a public university should provide to its students and society at large. This is directly attributable to the continued hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff. It is also a result of hard–working students who understand that they will either make or break a future California economy. What is truly at stake under the $68 million scenario is the future economic viability of California and whether this state will remain an economic force in national and international circles.
We want you to know that your contributions are recognized and greatly appreciated. We also want you to know what is at stake and that your advocacy matters. When given the opportunity, I urge you to share your concerns with local legislators and officials, parents, neighbors, external audiences, friends, and others.
Thank you and Go Beach!
F. King Alexander