Budget freeze halts hiring

Greg Kane

President Donald Gerth said Thursday additional hiring of faculty after the University?s 106 current open positions are filled has been put on hold following Gov. Gray Davis? projection of a $14 billion state budget deficit.

Gerth made the announcement to Faculty Senate members after a teleconference with California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed, who said the CSU system may be forced to make budget cuts for the 2002-03 fiscal year to accommodate the deficit. Gerth said positions currently open due to this semester?s enrollment increase will still be filled, but all others are on hold until more is known about the budget situation.

“I want to hold back on any more hiring until we get a steady grasp on the next few years of enrollment,” Gerth said. “When we do get a number, then we will figure out where the money will come from.”

The CSU has been asked to look at making budget cuts for the next fiscal year to lessen the impact of the deficit, said CSU Spokesperson Clara Potes-Fellow. Chancellor Reed will meet with the presidents of the 23 CSU campuses to look at possible solutions, and a task force consisting of students, faculty and Board of Trustees members is also in the works.

“I?m sure when (Chancellor Reed) meets with the presidents in November, he will have a more detailed idea of how this task force will be framed,” Potes-Fellow said.

Though the possibility exists that Sacramento State may be forced to make some budget cuts, the large enrollment increase seen by the University in recent years still needs to be addressed, said Sac State Vice President for Administration Ed Del Biaggio.

“Somehow, there?s going to have to be funds found to address the enrollment increase,” Del Biaggio said.

When the state faced a budget shortage and recession in the early 1990s, the CSU was forced to raise student fees nearly 50 percent before restoring them to normal several years later. Potes-Fellow said there has been no discussion of raising fees again so far, although it could be considered as an option when the task force is put together.

“At this point, nothing has been said about (raising fees),” Potes-Fellow said. “I think when the chancellor appoints a task force, they will look at every opportunity to make ends meet.”

Del Biaggio said a fee increase would be highly unlikely.

“I almost 100 percent can guarantee there won?t be any fee increase,” Del Biaggio said.

Sac State Associate Vice President of Public Affairs Ann Reed said the budget situation is “very slippery,” and can change from one week to the next.

“Anything you?re sure about today, you?re not sure about three weeks from now, because it changes,” Reed said.

Reed said the true status of next year?s budget won?t be known until May 2002, when the Governor?s proposed budget is revised.

“We really aren?t going to know much until next summer,” Reed said.