We have come to a crossroads in California, one which threatens the very future of our state. The fiscal disorder that threatens California higher education is not to be taken lightly. In January, Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget included a $500 million reduction in funding to campuses of the California State University. However, this level of reduction was reliant on the citizens approving a ballot measure proposed for June that would extend three existing state taxes for five years. The measure ultimately did not receive legislators’ approval to place such a decision before the voters of California.
This puts California higher education in an even more precarious financial position with the potential for a
$1 billion reduction to the CSU. The Governor has declared the state may be required to endure an “all cuts budget” unless the tax extensions are approved. This level of reduction to our system would result in a nearly $70 million cut to state funds provided to Cal State Long Beach or an approximate 40 percent reduction to our state resources in a single year. The impact of this massive cut would be devastating: fewer students, fewer classes, fewer faculty and staff, fewer services offered to students, reductions in financial aid would all be likely, in addition to other potential “solutions” to the problem.
The reality is that we all lose if this comes to pass. Higher education has become California’s main economic driver; we cannot improve our economy without a well educated workforce. If we are to move forward as a state, we must 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 of us, then we will never have the kind of workforce necessary in an increasingly competitive global economy.
CSULB continues to be a national model of what a public university should provide to its students and society at large. This is attributable to the 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.
Preservation and expanded support of California’s public education is not an option. California’s students will rely on their education throughout their lives. They must not be burdened by being offered an education diminished by financial woes and poor decisions.
My sincere hope is that Californians will be given the opportunity to accept the temporary costs of extending these three taxes and, more importantly, the opportunity to vote in support of California’s future. Please help us by letting your legislators know that this issue is important to you and critical to the state. Investing in our students benefits all Californians.