The ongoing budget deficit could affect the California State University system by more than $250 million if voters don’t approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s Nov. tax initiative.
The Chancellor’s Office has taken a “prudent planning approach” and will not distribute the $250 million to CSU universities, according to a recent San Diego State budget update.
“The idea is we won’t know the outcome of that obviously until November, yet we have to budget for the year,” SDSU Provost Nancy Marlin said. Because the elections are in the middle of the fall semester, “you can’t have classes going on and try to cut things,” Marlin said. “So the idea is we’re actually going to withhold it, because, sadly, even if it passes, there’s no guarantee that money will go to higher education. It’s possible there could still be cuts.”
Since 2007, there has been more than $1 billion reduction in state funding, according to CSU Budget Central.
“The bottom really fell out of the economy so we ended up taking a series of cuts,” CSU Media Relations Specialist Erik Fallis said.
At SDSU, state appropriations have decreased by more than half since 2007, a difference of about $118 million, according to the budget report. The decrease in funding has resulted in increased tuition for students, fewer programs and courses offered, larger class sizes and a loss of roughly 100 tenured and tenure-track faculty at SDSU.
“That’s just decimating to a university. The faculty are the people who do the research and teaching and service,” Marlin said.
However, that’s not the entire picture.
“Now the second shoe drops. Consider this all the first shoe,” Fallis said. “And that is, what is going to happen in future years? And that’s where our fate at the university gets really closely tied to the tax initiative that the governor put on the November ballot.”
If the tax initiative passes, the CSU system will stay at record-low levels of funding. However if it doesn’t pass, funding could additionally be cut $250 million on top of the record-low levels.
“So we are really now at the point where efficiency doesn’t get you there, reductions and administrative costs doesn’t get you there,” Fallis said. The last time the CSU system worked with this type of state resources, there were 95,000 fewer students, according to Fallis.
“We have more and more applications every year and that’s made it more competitive to get into SDSU,” Marlin said.
Applicants who have been accepted to the University of California schools and private schools are often rejected at SDSU.
“It’s because we’re in great demand. People want to come here. So when you have over 70,000 undergraduate applications, you have a lot of people who aren’t accepted,” Marlin said.
Ashley Quintera, an incoming freshman, said she chose SDSU instead of Point Loma Nazarene University because she was worried about the cost of attending a private school.
“I was afraid that if they cut the money I was supposed to get from the government, then I wasn’t going to be able to pay for my school,” Quintera said. The CSU Board of Trustees discussed budget options in case the initiative isn’t passed. One of them is a mid-year increase in tuition. “Hopefully they don’t. But if they do, I plan to get a job or ask my sister to help me,” Quintera said.
A job would stifle Quintera’s plans to get involved with extracurricular activities on campus. “I was involved a lot in high school so I wanna be involved here,” Quintera said.