CFA COVID-19 Message: Budget Projections Before the May Revise

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are well as we enter the final weeks of spring semesters and quarters. Current indications are that we have some challenging times ahead, and we will need to work together in union to move through these difficult days.

A recession has hit our country as we continue to battle a severe health crisis. But CFA has goals in mind, a plan in place, and an understanding of our history to know what we must do to succeed together and defend quality higher education.

Last week, Governor Newsom announced a projected $54 billion budget deficit. With this deficit, it is projected that unemployment will reach 18 percent, compared to 12.3 percent during the 2009 recession. The deficit is equal to about 37 percent of General Fund spending in 2019, according to the California Department of Finance. We know from the recession more than a decade ago that these numbers will reflect heavily in the lived experiences of our current students, our recent graduates, and the students to come.

The Department of Finance wrote that “the projected deficit as a percent of General Fund spending is modestly smaller than the budget deficits faced by the state in 2003 and in 2009. This is due largely to the state’s prudent fiscal management and strong economic recovery since 2011.”

The Governor plans to release his May revise this Thursday and CFA will be in touch once we know more about what this means for our state, for higher education, and for the CSU.

We know we must learn from the past recession so we do not make the same mistakes again.

  • Cuts to the budget should protect our campus labor force and faculty should not be cut first;
  • Faculty members should not “volunteer” for work that must be paid for;
  • We should not “race to the bottom” again, leaving California’s students in debt and short-changed;
  • Faculty should continue to stand by one another in solidarity;
  • We cannot pit tenure track against lecturer faculty, including lecturers, coaches, counselors, and librarians who work off the tenure track but are nevertheless the bulk of the faculty.

Remember, we are in this together as a union. We will support one another and fight for one another and our students as we continue to work for a better CSU.

While plans are in the works for the fall semester, we do know that campuses will not look anything like last Fall. CFA, statewide and at the campus-level, continues to advocate for our faculty, staff, and students. You can read our long-term plan for quality higher education here.

We still need you to be involved, too. We want to encourage you to connect with your local chapter to join our efforts in the rebuilding of our state economy. The CSU is the solution. If you are not a member of CFA, please join us and take part in our work. Whether through your campus chapters, in our anti-racism and social justice endeavors, in politics, and even virtually as we continue to shelter-in-place, we need you.

As a reminder, CFA regularly updates its COVID-19 website with the latest information concerning higher education, CSU faculty, and issues relating to our union’s activities around the pandemic. I also urge you to reach out to your CFA chapter president or faculty rights representative for any questions or concerns about your safety, working conditions, and any contract-related issues. You will find the best contacts for our Northern California campuses and Southern California campuses posted on our webpage.

It is going to take all of us to fight for quality education and faculty rights to meet the challenge of educating and serving California’s workforce.

As always, please be safe and continue to look out for one another.


In union,

Charles Toombs, Ph.D.
President, California Faculty Association
Department of Africana Studies
San Diego State University