Faculty, students to lawmakers: Time to reinvest in the CSU and #FundTheDream

Faculty and students urged lawmakers to stand up for the future of the state and reinvest in the California State University during an Assembly budget hearing on education finance at the Capitol on Tuesday.

CFA leaders told members of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance that additional CSU funding is critical for current and future students, in that it could help thwart a tuition increase in the next academic year and boost enrollment growth.

Funding for the CSU is a matter of not only creating class mobility, but fostering racial justice, as nearly three-quarters of CSU students identify as students of color. It’s also a matter of increasing access to the People’s University, and providing a healthier economic outlook, CFA President Jennifer Eagan said.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget includes just $92.1 million in additional funding for the 2018-19 fiscal year. That’s simply not enough. CFA is proposing that the CSU budget augmentation be $422.6 million, which would increase access to the CSU for an additional 18,205 students.

By focusing on year-to-year CSU funding, the big picture gets lost. If the CSU today had resources comparable to what it had in 1985, the CSU would have about $773 million more in its operating budget to serve students.

“The Governor’s budget is also recommending that the state put away an additional $3.5 billion in the rainy day fund,” Eagan said. “Well, we believe it is raining in the CSU right now. Demanding austerity during times of plenty is not only cruel, but in the case of higher education, particularly unwise.”

Eagan’s full comments to the Subcommittee can be read here.

Jorge Quintana, a Sacramento State student, told the committee that he can barely afford his education. His family income is $23,000 per year. All money goes to food and bills and like other CSU students, he struggles.

“We are not facts and figures, we are flesh and bone. And when we are underfunded, we hurt, we hunger, we struggle,” he said. “A CSU education means opportunity for me to take care of my family, to go back to my community as a teacher… By not funding the CSU you’re taking away our dreams. You’re taking away our future.”

Cecil Canton, Associate Vice President of Affirmative Action, said if the state really wants to prepare for the next economic downturn, it should do so by investing in public higher education.

“It should do that by identifying a long-term, dedicated funding source that can be used for higher education,” Canton said.

CFA Treasurer Susan Green noted that increased funding to the Community College system would create a “flood of eligible transfers with nowhere to go without commensurate funding increases to the CSU.”

“We cannot continue to cheat generations of California students, the future economic drivers of the state,” she said.

Faculty, students, and community allies also plan to hold an action at the Capitol on April 4, where we will tell Gov. Brown that it’s time to #FreeTheCSU and #FundTheDream that California students were promised by the Master Plan.

Click here to RSVP to the April 4 action at the Capitol.