Eventful Day 1 at Board of Trustees Meeting over 2020-21 CSU Funding Request

Several CFA Leaders are attending this week’s CSU Board of Trustees meeting to advocate on a number of issues.

The first of two days was action packed with spirited discussion on the CSU’s budget request for the 2020-21 fiscal year. During Tuesday’s Committee on Finance discussions, CFA Chapter President at CSU Fullerton G. Chris Brown reminded the Trustees it was their job to ensure the $60 million in funding the State Legislature recently designated to increase faculty hiring is actually spent correctly across all CSU campuses.

“Make sure you get the spending reports from each campus, and hold them accountable if they don’t spend the money on tenure track (faculty) hiring as they’re supposed to do. There must be consequences for failure to follow the law, since this was stipulated by the Legislature,” Brown told Trustees.

Also during the Committee on Finance, Student Trustee Juan Garcia made a motion that the $15 million request for one-time funding for the Basic Needs program – monies aimed at aiding students who are food insecure and homeless – be changed to ongoing funding. He noted the severe financial strain facing students will not go away for several years. After some discussion, the amendment passed in the Committee, with several Trustees voting against.

Trustees spent much time Tuesday morning discussing Faculty Trustee Romey Sabalius’ recommendation to increase the CSU’s budget request. In an effort to increase staff and faculty recruitment, retention and morale, Sabalius proposed hiking the request for the compensation pool by 50%. The boost represents less than a 1% increase to the overall $7.2 billion CSU operational budget request.

“These are the people who keep our facilities in order, the people who guide our students to success. This is a fair and reasonable request,” he said.

Responding to Trustee questions, CSU Budget staff said the original staff compensation request of $139.8 million roughly equates to a 3% wage increase. After push back from Trustees and the Chancellor, Sabalius agreed to withdraw his amendment and bring it back to Trustees for discussion Wednesday.

Trustees also approved a policy on compensation for the highest paid campus executives. The new policy ties performance reviews to merit and calls for salary assessments for the 23 campus presidents that consider market data. Chancellor Timothy P. White spoke glowingly of the “high performing,” “remarkable” and “extraordinary” talent of the presidents and urged Trustees to approve the policy to address the “existential threat” of low president pay facing the institution. 

Faculty Trustee Sabalius said he would remember those adjectives when his salary pool increase proposal for the rest of the CSU’s 53,000 staff came back for discussion Wednesday. Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis supported the presidential compensation policy, but told Trustees they are also “obligated to look at the delta between those who are paid the most and those who are paid the least.”