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CSU airs plight to governor

POSTED May 24, 2011 11:06 p.m.

The California State University System continued its fight against a possible $1 million budget reduction on Tuesday, as CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and more than a dozen CSU presidents met with Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento.

“The CSU strongly advocated against a $1 billion (36 percent) year-to-year budget reduction that could create significant hardship for students, families and campuses across the state,” said CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani, who met with Brown and local legislators. “I am encouraged by the open dialog with the governor, as it is absolutely imperative that we protect higher education from damagingly high budget cuts and Central Valley students and their families from huge tuition increases and the prospect of significant limits on enrollment.”

The CSU budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 has already been reduced by $500 million as legislators attempt to balance California’s budget, still $10 billion in deficit despite ongoing cuts. That $500 million cut led to an approved 10 percent CSU tuition hike, effective Fall semester.

Should proposed extensions of a 1 percent sales tax and a .5 percent vehicle license fee, due to expire in June, be rejected, a further $500 million would be cut from the CSU budget. In response, the CSU has said it would be forced to raise tuition fees up to 32 percent – on top of the 10 percent increase – and enroll 20,000 fewer students.

Those tax extensions could go before voters for approval, but Republicans are currently blocking the measure in the State Senate. Democrats are currently four votes short of putting tax extensions on the ballot.

"We asked the Governor what we can do to help," Reed said. "We want to do everything we can to get those four votes to extend these revenues. We will keep working toward that goal."

Brown did not commit to preventing the additional $500 million cut, putting the onus on legislators and voters.

"California is at a turning point," said Brown. "We need to decide whether we are going to adequately fund our universities or not.  And, that is really the decision to be made first by the legislature and then by the people."

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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