Magazine Article

The CSU Trustees’ 2015/16 budget request presses the governor to up his numbers

By Nora Lynn
CFA Legislative Director

Though the governor’s signature on the state’s 2014/15 budget was barely dry, CSU number crunchers were already back at work last fall oal year draft budget for the CSU Trustees annual budget request-o-rama each November.

The CSU’s budget proposal started out as an information item at the September 2014 Trustees meeting. It was adopted by them in November with some amount of debate and worry, especially over how the governor wants to account for capital outlays like building repairs.

The CSU budget request went to the governor to be worked into the state budget plan that customarily is announced in early January.

The Trustees’ budget request for the CSU calls for nearly twice as much in additional funding as Gov. Brown had slated for the system when he laid out his four-year, $511 million supplemental funding plan that began in 2013/14.

Specifically, the CSU’s request for the coming fiscal year is an increase of $216.6 million from the state, an amount well above the $119.5 million the governor has indicated he will allocate. [ED NOTE: The governor did include that number when he announced his budget plan in January 2015]

To get a sense of comparison, for the current 2014/15 budget cycle, the CSU Trustees requested $237.6 million in new state funding—the CSU actually received $142.2 million.

CSU budget revenues are split: half coming from the state’s General Fund and the other half from tuition.

Student fees have been frozen through the 2016-17 budget year, and university officials assert that some 20,000 students have been turned away from the CSU every fall between 2010 to fiscal constraints.

The Trustees’ proposal, which would set the CSU’s annual spending at $4.7 billion, includes $103 million for about 10,000 more students—a 3 percent increase—and accommodates demand from current students for more, badly needed course offerings.

This enrollment increase will provide fee revenues of as much as $52 million; however, this modest increase in enrollment will not keep up with future demands on the CSU. 

In addition to this nearly $141 million for course needs and enrollment growth, the CSU’s proposal would include $50 million to improve graduation rates; $65.5 million for pay increases for staff; $25 million for critical maintenance and infrastructure needs; and $14 million for information technology infrastructure upgrades.

As the Governor continues to implement funding growth rates for California Community Colleges and K-12 (about 10 percent last year) that far outpace what the CSU receives, the CSU will have to continue to turn away even more qualified students each year. 

The first wave of students affected by this lack of parity in funding between CSU on the one hand and California Community Colleges and K-12 on the other will be in 2015/16—not far away from now.

The CSU also will continue to compete with other essential state programs for its funding demands.

The governor has already cited California’s unprecedented drought and firefighting needs in vetoing an extra $100 million in funding the Legislature attempted to allocate to the CSU and UC in an end-of-session budget bill last August.

University officials also warned that the governor could siphon in excess of $300 million from the state’s $1.1 billion reserve to address prison overcrowding and associated court mandates.