CSU voices support for the Governor?s proposed budget for 2001-2002

Greg Kane

California State University voiced its support for Governor Gray Davis? proposed 2001-02 budget during a hearing at the Capitol last Thursday.

CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, California Faculty Association Legislative Director Bob Gurian and California State Student Association Chair Shaun Lumachi gave statements to the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance at the hearing.

Reed said that the need for funding is great right now, since surging enrollments require more quality faculty and facilities.

“The CSU?s existing facilities tend to be older?more than half are over 28 years old?and the increased usage has added to the need for repairs and renovations,” Reed said.

Due to rising costs, particularly from California?s current energy crisis, and the need for an up-to-date telecommunications infrastructure in CSU facilities, a new bond issue could also be necessary, he said. The last bond for CSU in an election was Proposition 1A, which passed in 1998.

“The bond-funded capital outlay program has helped us make significant progress in meeting our needs for classrooms, laboratories, libraries and technology infrastructure necessary to operate the university,” Reed said. “With a new bond, the CSU will be able to implement much-needed renovation and construction projects.”

Lumachi, a Sacramento State student, supported the budget, particularly for its attention to students? educational needs. He pointed to a $1 million allocation for the Diagnostic Writing Service, which helps students who have problems reading and writing, and an additional $20 million that has been set aside for instructional equipment necessary for students.

“The DWS helps students and their teachers to develop a program to help students strengthen their skills necessary to enroll in baccalaureate-level work,” Lumachi said.

Funding of a one-time request of $12 million for student services is also a vital piece of the budget for the legislature to consider, Lumachi said.

Since what had been known as “the traditional student” has been replaced by single parents and working adults, it has become necessary to accommodate these students by figuring out the best plan of action to allow them to graduate, Lumachi said.

“It is our belief that, with this additional investment, our students will be better able to plan a course of study that will allow them to complete their degree in a timely manner and have access to academic advising and counseling that, once a course of study has been outlined, will allow them to stay on track in completing their educational goals,” Lumachi said.

The proposed budget for CSU in 2001-02 totals $5.1 billion, which is $219 million more than the budget for this year. The General Fund saw an 8.8 percent increase, growing to $2.68 billion, and an additional $16.5 million is provided to keep the CSU undergraduate fee level of $1,834 per year from being affected by a 4.91 percent increase in mandatory fees.

Also included in the budget is $64.2 million to be divided into a number of initiatives, including $36 million for linking higher education with the K-12 system. This includes the Governor?s K-12 Technology Training Initiative, which is designed to help teachers learn to use technology in the classroom. It also funds for 1,000 annual Governor?s Teaching Fellowships, which provide students who agree to teach at low-performing schools for four years with nonrenewable graduate teaching fellowships.

“The [Teacher Fellowship Program] provides fellowships to qualified individuals who attend accredited traditional or alternative teacher preparation programs at public or private institutions,” Lumachi said.

The budget provides funds for other programs as well, including $8 million to expand the relationship between CSU professors and California high school teachers to increase incoming students? proficiency in math and English and $10 million to enhance strategic academic programs like agriculture, nursing and biotechnology.

It is still unclear whether CSU will get all of the funding laid out in the current budget, said CSU spokesperson Ken Swisher. The budget still has to be revised in May, and from there it will go to the legislature for passage.

“By May, we have a much clearer idea of how much money will be available for the budget,” Swisher said.

California?s other higher education systems were also represented at the hearing. Tom Nussbaum, chancellor of California community colleges, said that while he was happy with the money his school was provided with from the budget, there is still a lot more that can be done to accommodate surging enrollment numbers.

“We really are the workhorses of higher education,” Nussbaum said. “We serve three out of four students in higher education.”

Nussbaum said that even though there are more students enrolled at community colleges than universities in California, funding does not always reflect that.

“There is a real difference in the amount of funds between [university] and [community college] students,” Nussbaum said.