Current Issues: Excellence Under Pressure

Lowest Level of Funding in 15 Years 1

The state legislature in the last three years has cut the California State University (CSU) an unprecedented 30 % in the level of state support -- down to pre 1997 state funding levels.  Since 1997, the campuses have grown because of student demand.  CSU, Long Beach is now the third largest campus in the California State University system.  The California State University System proposed 2012-13 budget is the lowest level of funding in 15 years, while serving an additional 90,000 students.  

“We Can Not Continue Down This Path” 2

Systemwide, the 23 CSU campuses are under extreme pressure to meet student demand, keep quality education affordable, and manage the state’s reduction in funding.  Tuition, which once was called fees, has increased as state support has declined, as it is the only way that the university can recoup revenue lost in state support.  The CSU has used up its reserves, postponed the maintenance of the physical plant, scrutinized increases in cost of all essential services and  commodities, reduced classes, instituted employee furloughs and layoffs, set travel restrictions, expanded the use of technology, and reduced enrollment by increasing admissions eligibility for students outside of each respective campus service area and “impacted” programs.  Campuses have done all this due to a $750 million cut in 2011-12.

Proposes Flat Budget Dependent on Voter Approval of Tax Initiative

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed 2012-13 state budget calls for the same level of state support for the California State University as that of 2011-12, provided that a November 2012 tax initiative is passed by the voters.  The budget relies on the passage of a tax initiative that would raise income taxes on high-income earners and increase the state sales tax.  The measure is an effort to close part of the $9.2 billion state general fund deficit by raising approximately $7 billion a year in additional revenue.  However, if the voters do not approve the measure, a series of trigger cuts would go into effect, including an additional $200 million cut to the CSU, the equivalent of 27,000 students who will not find a place in any of the CSUs.  CSU, Long Beach’s cut would be approximately seven percent of the cut.  

Triggers at Mid-year is now an Annual Ritual

University leaders have told the governor and legislature that the CSU is out of options, having already instituted many cost cutting measures.  Until a state budget is passed, the CSU will continue to draw upon one-time reserves, delay equipment purchases and facilities maintenance work to offset the $100 million “trigger cut” the CSU received in December 2011.  In the coming months even more extreme measures will be considered, including additional cuts to academic programs and increases in tuition if the Governor’s budget is passed.  Even then it will brace itself for additional trigger cuts should the voter not approve the tax initiative.

It is Not Possible for California to Grow its Economy without an Educated Workforce.

The CSU is sensitive to the concern that tuition increases cause families and students.  It acknowledges however, that to maintain access to quality education, the state must focus on its obligation to the students whose public education is vital to growing the state’s economy.  As codified in the California Master Plan for Higher Education, California once promised affordable higher education to all who could benefit from it.


1 The CSU Employee Update, 1-6-12

2 CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed

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