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CSU prepares scorched earth budget
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With the state budget still unresolved, the California State University system is planning for the worst with a “scorched earth budget that would devastate the institution,” according to CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed.

CSU officials on Tuesday released an emergency budget contingency plan, totaling $1 billion in year-over-year cuts – an additional $500 million beyond the $500 million cut already. The budget plan suggests a further 32 percent tuition hike, on top of a 10 percent cut agreed to in November.

"There are no good options, only extreme choices," said Reed.  "But, we need to ensure that our students still receive a quality education, that we preserve the institution, and that a degree from the CSU maintains value.

The CSU has already decreased enrollment by 10,000 students this fall, increased tuition 10 percent in November, reduced personnel, and engaged in other cost cutting measures to cut $500 million from its budget this year. If the state does not extend the expiring half-cent sales tax, the reduction in state support could double to $1 billion.

That extra $500 million totals the entire state funding for the CSU’s 10 smallest campuses, or enrollment funding for 85,000 students. In total, the potential $1 billion cut amounts to 36 percent of the CSU’s state support budget.

"We are actively working to avert further cuts to the university," Reed said, "and have been aggressively working to encourage elected officials and the public to support a final budget that includes tax extensions.  However, we also have an obligation to be prepared for a worst-case scenario, and we do not have the luxury of a great deal of time.  We cannot wait on the state and its uncertain budget process."

In response, the emergency budget contingency plan suggests wait-listing all applications for winter and spring 2012, accepting applications but delaying any admissions decisions until the budget is finalized. In a worst case scenario, the CSU says up to 20,000 students could be turned away in those two terms alone.

Additionally, the CSU Board of Trustees could act as soon as July to increase tuition up to an additional 32 percent, on top of the 10 percent increase already approved. The increase would translate into an additional $1,566 per year for undergraduates, bringing annual tuition to $6,450 before any campus-specific fees.

"Raising tuition is always a painful choice," said Reed.  "But we would be faced with just trying to keep our classroom doors open."

The CSU reiterated that the cuts could be avoided, should the state include tax extensions in the final adopted state budget.

"Neither of these extreme measures – raising tuition or closing spring admissions – will be necessary if the tax extensions are continued," concluded Reed.  "It is critical that we continue to advocate in Sacramento that they are part of the final budget solution.  That is the only way to avoid going down the budget path of no return."

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.