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Cal State leaders to consider budget options

July 17, 2012 |  6:00 am

Cal State Trustees meeting

California State University leaders meeting in Long Beach on Tuesday are expected to discuss tuition hikes, job cuts, enrollment reductions and other ways to save money should voters fail to pass Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative on the November ballot.

Failure of the tax measure would trigger a $250-million, midyear cut in state funding for Cal State, forcing the system to consider several painful options to close the gap.

One strategy to be presented to the Board of Trustees includes a midyear tuition increase of $150 per semester, or about 5%; a 2.5% across-the-board reduction in employee pay and benefits; a reduction in time given to faculty for research, sabbaticals and other nonteaching activities; additional per-unit charges for course loads above 16 units; and increasing the tuition supplement paid by nonresident students by $1,000.

A second strategy would forgo a tuition increase but reduce enrollment by about 6,000 students, eliminate 750 faculty and staff positions, and reduce pay and benefits by about 5.25% systemwide.

“We have reached a point where there are nothing but difficult trade-offs involved in having to confront this very real possibility of trigger cuts,” Cal State Assistant Vice Chancellor for Budget Robert Turnage said in a conference call outlining the budget scenarios.

Cal State and the University of California each suffered a $750-million reduction in state general fund support in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The recently approved state budget includes a plan -- should the tax measure be enacted -- that would give an additional $125 million to both Cal State and UC in the 2013-14 fiscal year, but only if the systems maintain current tuition levels.

However, Cal State trustees in November already had approved a 9% tuition hike for this fall that would raise undergraduate tuition by $498 annually to $5,970, not including campus-based fees, books and housing.

Cal State’s 23 campuses have already begun collecting tuition from thousands of students. The tuition hike was projected to raise an additional $132 million during the academic year, a gap that would have to be filled some other way.

The university is working on a deal in which it would refund the tuition fees should the tax measure pass, Turnage said.

Trustees on Tuesday will consider a resolution to endorse the tax measure. Also on the agenda are controversial salary packages for seven new and interim campus presidents.

The board is expected to delay voting on a contingency budget until its September meeting.


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Photo: Students rally outside the CSU chancellor's office in Long Beach on July 12 to protest tuition increases. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times