CSU needs, deserves $325 million in additional investment from state

Californians deserve a better-funded “People’s University.”

That’s the core of a message today from CFA President Jennifer Eagan to Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, who chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. The subcommittee will meet at 4 pm today to discuss funding for the CSU in the state’s 2017-18 budget.

Specifically, the CSU needs $324.9 million more in state budget funding, which is $167.7 million more than Gov. Jerry Brown proposed allocating for the CSU in the 2017-18 state budget plan he released in January.

Eagan’s letter points out that in 1985, tuition and fees in the CSU were only $666. Since then, costs have grown 923 percent. If tuition and fees had kept pace with inflation over the past 30 years, students today would be paying only $1,519. Instead, they are paying 4.5 times that amount, or $6,881 per year.

“The fact is, today the state’s per student investment is only 59 percent of what the state invested in a CSU student in 1985,” Eagan writes.

The hearing today comes on the heels of a State Auditor’s report, which critiques an unjustifiable increase in hiring of CSU management, as well as the lack of oversight and monitoring of campus budgets.

The audit found that:

CSU Chancellor Tim White had claimed the audit failed to factor in some specific categories of employees that might have skewed the data and also noted that 60 percent of those classified as management deal directly with students, and in programs designed to “increase graduation rates and close achievement gaps.” The auditor countered the milquetoast response, stating that the audit did include those categories.

“We’re all here fighting for more resources for the CSU, and there’s an obligation to account for them appropriately and to use them appropriately,” Lillian Taiz, CFA’s Political Action Chair, told the LA Times. “And when something like this comes up, it’s not good for any of us.”

The Auditor reasonably recommends that the Legislature require the CSU to submit an annual report on specific activities the CSU undertakes to meet the state’s goals for student success is reasonable.

In CFA’s letter, Eagan also encouraged Assemblymember McCarty and the Legislature to “use the budget process to ensure that additional state funding for the CSU be targeted towards instructional activities that we know will contribute to student success and improved graduation rates: offer more classes and hire more permanent faculty to teach them.”