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Budget gloomy for 2011-2012 year


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Published 2011-01-25T21:26:00Z”/>

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Ben Mullin

Chico State students stand at the foot of an uphill battle.

A proposed $500 million budget cut for the 23 California State University campuses was made Jan. 10 by Gov. Jerry Brown. This cut is part of a proposed $1.4 billion reduction to higher education funding throughout the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which calls for a 10 percent increase in student fees.

“My first reaction was ‘here we go again,'” said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Sandra Flake in an e-mail interview. “The roller coaster ride continues.”

January’s proposed budget reduction, which comes on the heels of this spring’s 15 percent tuition increase, could be the second massive cut to state spending for higher education in just three years, Flake said. During the 2009-2010 year, $28.7 million was cut from Chico State’s budget, which resulted in a 30 percent fee increase and a two-day per month furlough program.

“These ups and downs in the general fund make it very hard to manage expectations,” she said.

These expectations include using a budget from the previous decade to support an additional generation of students, said Joe Wills, director of public affairs at Chico State.

“If this cut happens, we’ll be using a budget from 1999 to support a system that has 50,000 additional students.” Wills said. “It’s hard, if not impossible, to run the same institution and serve them the same way if you keep adding people and cutting the budget.”

It is too early to forecast exactly how Chico State’s administration will react to the cut in state spending because the final budget won’t be drafted until July, he said.

“The governor can’t decree a budget,” Wills said. “There’s a potential for conversation.”

Chico State’s administration and CSU Chancellor Charles Reed have consistently referred to the proposal as the beginning of a conversation, asserting their rights to negotiate the terms of the budget.

But at least one voice in this conversation is having trouble making itself heard, said Chris Chavez, a student at CSU Long Beach and president of the student advocacy group California State Students Association.

“The students at CSUs need to contact the state legislature,” he said. “Last time we saw cuts of this magnitude, we saw furlough days.”

Both the Cal Grant financial aid system and total student enrollment are possible targets for the impending budget reduction, Chavez said.

“We need to protect access to our universities,” he said.

But students aren’t the only ones affected by budget cuts.

During the budget crisis of 2009-2010, furlough days devastated Augie’s Cafe, Chico’s charitable coffeehouse, said co-owner Peter Hansen.

“The furlough days killed us,” he said. “During those days, we lost one-third of our business, just because there were no students to buy coffee.”

Like Hansen, Chavez is worried that limited enrollment will affect California’s communities, and emphasized the importance of making the student’s voice heard in Sacramento.

“We need students to contact the state legislature, and we need them to contact the governor and say, ‘look, we need to protect access to our programs,'” Chavez said. “We’ve got a major battle ahead of us.”

Ben Mullin can be reached at

[email protected]

 

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        Budget gloomy for 2011-2012 year