Cal State approves student fee increases and furloughs

Third year Cal State Northridge student Danny Santana says budget cuts are making it harder for him to get the classes he needs to graduate.
Third year Cal State Northridge student Danny Santana says budget cuts are making it harder for him to get the classes he needs to graduate.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

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As expected, trustees of the California State University system approved a cost cutting plan to help close a half-billion dollar deficit brought on by Sacramento budget cuts. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez attended the trustees’ meeting in Long Beach and filed this report.

The Cal State system plans to erase half its shortfall through a $672 yearly fee increase for full-time students. Trustees also voted to enroll 40,000 fewer students in the next two years. Before the vote, Cal State Stanislaus graduate Diana Heredia told trustees that’ll mean fewer people like her will earn college degrees.

Diana Heredia: "As a child I grew up on welfare and became a teenage mother at the age of 18. I’m here before you today to tell you that because of the amazing institutions that I’ve been able to attend, I was provided a quality education with outstanding mentorship both at the JC and CSU level."

California Faculty Association President Lillian Taiz told Heredia that Cal State’s 22,000 professors, librarians and coaches empathize with her.

Lillian Taiz: "The faculty, staff and students will not be divided during this crisis. We will continue to support students who are resisting the staggering burden of huge fee increases. Likewise, the CSU unions will support one another no matter what position each union takes on furloughs."

Instructors have their own budget-related worries. Pending union agreement, trustees approved two unpaid days off a month for all 47,000 Cal State employees. The union that represents faculty members hasn’t finished its vote. Other unions have said yes to furloughs to avoid significant layoffs.

In the end almost all the trustees, including the student representative, voted to approve the cost-cutting plan. The single ‘no’ vote came from John Garamendi, California’s lieutenant governor. He failed to convince colleagues to yank the student fee increase and seek more money from an oil tax bill making its way through Sacramento.

After the vote, more than a dozen spectators, mostly Cal State students, stormed out of the chambers.

[Chants:] “Shame on you!”

Some criticized Cal State leadership for not lobbying hard enough in Sacramento against the cuts. Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz said the hundreds of thousands of Cal State students should make more noise later on.

Michael Ortiz: "I think that the mass numbers make a difference in the voting booth, and so that’s where the students should be organizing is organizing to support those that support higher education."

While many people at the trustees’ meeting said they understood why Cal State has to cut its budget, they also urged administrators to craft a long-term plan to protect the university. Advocates said the system is too important to the state to fall victim to California’s boom-and-bust economy.