CSU Trustees Vote To Raise Tuition If Prop 30 Fails, Shelves Other Contingency Issues

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California State Long Beach students will be paying more out of pocket for their education starting this Spring if a California proposition fails to pass.

The CSU’s Board of Trustees met Wednesday for what CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed called “the biggest challenge the CSU has ever had to face”: to adopt contingency measures with regard to their budget if Proposition 30 fails to be passed by voters in the upcoming election.

With few other options to combat the $250 million in cuts that will occur to the system if Prop 30 fails, the Board voted Wednesday that pending the initiative’s failure, it would institute a tuition hike of 5 percent starting in the Spring semester.

The California State University (CSU), as well as all public education institutions across the state, have been teetering between the hopes that Governor Brown’s tax initiative will pass and facing the reality of the opposite. Brown’s November initiative, Proposition 30, involves mainly an increase in sales tax as well as an increase in income tax for those making over $250,000 through a tiered system (i.e. the higher the bracket of income, the higher rates of taxation for said income).

The estimated revenue generated from the proposal varies, with Brown’s estimate at $9 billion and outside groups claiming $6.8 million.

Though not unanimous—11 pro, 3 con—the Board did pass a contingent resolution which would put onto students a “trigger on trigger” tuition hike of $150 per semester, or a 5 percent increase; that would bring the total per semester tuition cost to $3,135 (excluding school-based fees, books and various other costs) and bring an estimated $58 million in revenue for the ’12-’13 fiscal year.

Those against the tuition hike—faculty trustee Bernadette Cheyne, student trustee Jillian Ruddell and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson—were largely unsupportive due to the fact that financial aid for students would not increase, thereby placing a larger financial burden on the student.

“It is clear that we cannot simply cut our way out of another $250 million hit to our budget,” said Reed in a press release, who also said at Tuesday’s meeting that the public—parents and students alike—deserve adequate notice of the challenges that might come ahead. “We need to take a balanced approach in terms of cost reductions and revenue enhancements. That is reflected in the contingency plans approved by the board.”

In a similar situation facing municipalities across the state, the CSU has implemented multiple cost reduction actions such furloughs and workforce reduction, of which the system has cut some 3,000 employees. However, it has not been enough to stop the bleeding and, similar to the budget approved for next year here in Long Beach, a large portion of the funding gap—despite the revenue achieved via tuition hikes—has been covered by one-time monies and resources.

In a statement released last July, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Benjamin Quillian stated that continuing to use one-time monies for budget cut issues is “not sustainable.”

To buffer this, beyond the normal tuition hike, other approvals included an increase in the per-unit cost of nonresident students that would increase their cost to $810 per year or a 7% raise. Nonresident students account for 4% of the CSU student population.

Furthermore, it is estimated 20,000 will be unable to attend next fall should the initiative not pass. According to the CSU, this amounts to 5,500 course sections along with some 1,500 faculty and staff jobs.

Contingency measures that were delayed until November’s meeting included a supplement cost of $372 for seniors who have 150 units or more accumulated; a “repeat fee” of $100 for students who take the same class again; and an “overload fee” of $200 per unit for students who register in over 17 units within a single semester.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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