CSUB President Dr. Horace Mitchell held a Budget Forum on June 1, 2011 to keep CSUB employees and students informed of the current status of the state budget and its impact on CSUB. Mitchell also laid out an initial plan for handling the first round of budget cuts from the state.
“We know for sure that the first $500 million reduction has been approved. It’s in the legislation,” Mitchell said. “Whether or not a second $500 million cut is coming is up in the air.”
If the Legislature does not approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax extensions, the California State University system could see a $1 billion total reduction in state funding – or 36 percent of its funding for a single year. The CSU Chancellor’s Office has proposed an additional 32 percent increase in student fees, on top of the already approved 10 percent increase, if the worst-case-scenario budget does not include those tax extensions.
However, Mitchell said CSUB can only plan for what we know is coming. He listed these three priorities for CSUB:
- Preserving access to college education
- Providing academic support to students once they’re enrolled
- Facilitating students’ graduation
“In our community, the college-going rate for high school students is significantly less than the state. Our staff … have worked very hard with our partners in K-12 education and other entities to support the efforts on the part of high school students to stay in school and be prepared to go to college. We don’t want to, after encouraging them to be prepared, say, ‘Sorry, there’s no room. You can’t enroll,’” Mitchell said.
In one PowerPoint slide, Mitchell demonstrated how the initial $500 million cut translates to CSUB’s 2011-12 budget: A net reduction of $4.1 million to CSU Bakersfield.
In the next slide, he showed the plan for implementing the reduction, by division:
- President’s Office -3.7%
- University Advancement -9.4%
- Academic Affairs -5.7%
- Business and Administrative Services -8.5%
- Student Affairs -8.7%
- Athletics -8.8%
One area in which Dr. Mitchell said reductions will be made is in non-represented management positions. However, much of the specifics remain to be decided until the final state budget is approved. Furthermore, the university has $2.2 million of unallocated dollars which will not be factored in until the total state reduction is known.
“We have set these funds aside and will use these funds to reduce the impact of these reductions,” Mitchell said. “But we will do it in a strategic way that is consistent with our set of priorities. So don’t think we will use these $2.2 million to reduce the $4.1 million because we still have that big elephant out there that could weigh $500 million.”
Mitchell ended his remarks by focusing on the importance of funding higher education, as mandated in the Master Plan for Higher Education that was adopted in 1960. That plan established the community college, CSU and University of California systems.
“But the most important part of the Master Plan as I see it, is the Master Plan pretty much guaranteed that individuals would have access to low-cost higher education in California,” Mitchell said. “Currently the state does not support the Master Plan in its budget. So the promise of higher education is not there for the young people of today as it was for young people in years before. We must get back to giving real meaning to the Master Plan of Higher Education.”
During a Q&A session, Mitchell took questions from the audience and via Facebook and Twitter. To view his responses, visit Facebook.com/csubakersfield and Twitter.com/csubakersfield.