Tag Archives: csu

Opportunity Denied: CSU Freezes Enrollment

System worried about further cuts

by Brian Leubitz

The UC and CSU systems stand to be some of the biggest winners (or losers) of the November election. If Prop 30, the Governor’s revenue initiative goes down, they will be facing over $250mil in cuts. That fact makes this story rather unsurprising:

The university announced on Monday that because of $750 million in funding cuts in the 2011-12 school year and the prospect of another $250 million in losses if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative* does not pass, only 10 campuses will accept students in spring 2013, and even those campuses will enroll a limited number. (EdSource)

This move will particularly hit students who are planning on transferring from community colleges. Many of these students will be waitlisted pending the outcome of the election, but this is no way to treat our future.  Gambling on funding, while seemingly necessary in this case, just isn’t a system that is sustainable in the long-term.

Both the UC and CSU systems need a consistent revenue stream in order to appropriately plan for the future.

Finally, A Real Chance for Public Higher Education Reform in California

As a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, I am thrilled that there is finally momentum gaining in the movement to achieve real public higher education reform in California. In particular, the Middle Class Scholarship Act is an economically feasible way to make public higher education more affordable for all Californians.

While I was a student at SFSU my tuition increased every semester. To make matters worse, I never qualified for financial assistance to help fund my education because the State determined that my parents could afford to pay not only my tuition but also those of both of my sisters.

California’s public college students are continuing to struggle. The CSU Board of Trustees’ recent decision to close Spring 2013 enrollment is just one of the devastating blows that our public higher education students have been forced to endure, with no end in sight.

Luckily, help for California’s public university students and their families could be on the way. The Middle Class Scholarship Act recently proposed by California State Assembly Speaker John A. Perez is exactly the kind of public higher education reform that California’s students and their families need in these difficult financial times.

If it is approved by two-thirds of the California State Legislature, the Middle Class Scholarship Act will provide scholarships to approximately 150,000 CSU students and roughly 42,000 UC students who have family incomes less than $150,000 and whom do not already have their fees covered. These Middle Class Scholarships will slash student fees by two-thirds. Additionally, our California Community Colleges will receive $150 million to address their unique needs. The Middle Class Scholarships will be paid for in full by closing a wasteful corporate loophole that only benefits out-of-state businesses.  

The Middle Class Scholarship is an innovative solution to California’s public higher education crisis that will help students achieve their dreams, while at the same time, ensure that our Golden State has a strong workforce that is prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century economy.

I know that as a student, it is difficult just to make time to study and to work but I strongly urge all of California’s UC, CSU and Community College Students to do whatever they can to help pass the Middle Class Scholarship Act and to fight for the higher education reform they deserve. From signing and sharing this petition and tweeting and posting Facbook messages to your State legislators and Governor Brown (if you don’t know who your State legislators are, you can look them up here) to organizing on campus and gathering signatures, no action is too small or insignificant. Keep the faith and, most importantly, keep making your voices heard.

Please embrace the help of the politicians who want to help The Middle Class Scholarship Act become law. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Speaker Perez, Senators Darrell Steinberg, and Leland Yee and many other State leaders have consistently stood in solidarity with California’s college students and have fought tirelessly against every single higher education budget cut and fee increase. To pass the Middle Class Scholarship Act, the support and expertise of these politicians will be invaluable.    

If California’s public college students continue to come together and rally the support of our State legislators to pass the Middle Class Scholarship Act, I think we will finally see the dawn of real public higher education reform in California.

What of Higher Education?

SF State President says Gov. Brown hasn’t stood up for higher education

by Brian Leubitz

Yesterday we saw the scary fact that tuition would exceed state support in the UC system.  Today, the long-standing president of San Francisco State, Robert Corrigan, made his feelings known about the current budget situation and the governor’s leadership in an exit interview with the Bay Citizen.

The president of San Francisco State University said Monday that Gov. Jerry Brown “doesn’t seem to appreciate high-quality education in California.” …

“I think we are looking at a five-year budget] problem in California,” Corrigan said in a telephone interview. “At my age, I am not likely to be around for five years.” Corrigan plans to return to his research in American history after retiring. “The next president needs to deal with the Legislature and the governor as best that they can,” he said. ([The Bay Citizen)

President Corrigan is leaving after 24 years as president of the San Francisco campus amongst mixed opinions.  Many seem to think that he could have done more to protect students, while others seem resigned to the situation in Sacramento.  Ultimately, the question really can’t be answered at any of the individual campuses of either CSU or UC.  It is a failing of our state, our leaders, and our voters.  Together we have conspired to deprive our institutions of higher education of the necessary funding and then essentially required them to make the education cost prohibitive to much of the state’s population.

It is easy to question Gov. Brown, especially in hindsight.  But, with structural problems blooming like a stinking rose in Sacramento, the Governor is hardly the only person worthy of blame.  It is a sad fact that we once were wholeheartedly committed to education, today we cannot say that.

A Sad Day for Higher Education

Tuition will exceed general fund support for the first time for UC system this year

by Brian Leubitz

There was once a vision for education in California that allowed us to dream big.  It allowed the state to have expectations for the future, because we were investing in it through education.  We went so far as to build a master plan that included tuition free higher education.  Those days now seem like an extremely distant dream.

For the first time, the total amount that University of California students pay in tuition this year will surpass the funding the prestigious public university receives from the state. It is a historic shift for the UC system and part of a national trend that is changing the nature of public higher education.

Propelled by budget crises in California and elsewhere, the burden of paying for education at a public college or university, once heavily subsidized by taxpayers, is shifting to students and their families. (LA Times)

While the Right is crowing about class warfare, they are doing their damnedest to ensure that those below them can’t work their way up.  Higher education, for several generations, has been the most significant way of upward mobility.  Decreasing access further cements that the rich stay rich.  A sad day for the California dream, indeed.

UC Follows CSU to the Tuition Increase Game

Yesterday, it was CSU’s turn to raise tuition.  Apparently, today is the UC’s turn:

University of California regents today voted to raise tuition by about $1,070, sending the total cost to $12,192 for the upcoming school year.

After a recently approved $650 million cut in state funding, UC regents said they had no choice but to raise tuition to close about a quarter of the system’s $1 billion budget deficit. When combined with a previous hike, tuition will be 18 percent more — about $1,890 — in fall 2011 than it was in fall 2010. Each campus also charges undergraduates about $1,000 in additional fees. (SacBee)

The university systems are both on the hook for another $100 million in the triggered cuts if we don’t reach the higher, hopeful, revenue figure. By the way, the Controller announced today that we aren’t actually $230 million behind where we need to be, but $85 million, because somebody forgot to tally a big check from the unclaimed property account.

That being said, the discussion about the additional cuts was bumped until a later date, but don’t be shocked if more increases aren’t on the horizon.

One vote against the increase: LG Newsom.

“The biggest threat to our democracy is income inequality, the loss of the middle class,” Newsom said. “And here we are once again, putting the nail in the coffin of the middle class. That’s exactly who gets hurt in this debate.”

CSU Increases “Fees” While San Diego State Increases Administrative Salaries

The CSU Board has just responded to the budget cuts of about $650 million by increasing tuition again:

Today trustees approved a 12 percent increase that comes on top of a 10 percent increase approved last year. Combined, the two increases bring undergraduate tuition at CSU’s 23 campuses to $5,472 a year. That’s an increase of about 23 percent compared with last year, and does not include campus-based fees that average $950 a year. (SacBee)

So, yay for low taxes, right? Oh, hope you didn’t have any kids at your local CSU, because that is a big-time bummer, huh?

At the same time, Gov. Brown is also asking San Diego State to reconsider the additional $100K they want to pay their new president:

Gov. Jerry Brown has sent a letter to California State University trustees asking them to reconsider plans to give the new president of San Diego State a salary that would be $100,000 higher than his predecessor’s.

The board is gathered in Long Beach today to take up a number of issues, including setting compensation for Elliot Hirshman, the new president of San Diego State, and raising student tuition by 12 percent.

At the very least this is some very bad optics.  The $300,000 salary that the outgoing president probably could have gotten a qualified candidate without taking the PR hit of a huge increase to $400,000 per year.  

The Board apparently came up with their figures through studying other institutions and their salary patterns, but to be honest, now is somoe really bad timing to even bring pay up to market.  Brown pretty much had to say something about this new arrangement.

The Administrators and Trustees of the UC/CSUs could probably make better money in other jobs, I don’t really debate that.  But it is hard to argue to janitors who are taking pay cuts and students facing 24% increases that administrators need that additional salary.

Students in California March Today, I Stand with Them

Students at public universities in California are planning a series of demonstrations across the state protesting tuition hikes today. While a few isolated incidents in recent weeks have provided fodder for some in the media to dismiss their concerns, the students’ cause is incredibly important. If we continue to yearly raise tuition in California far beyond inflation, we threaten to derail all that has enabled my home state to prosper in decades past.

It is no accident that the Golden State’s Golden Age of economic innovation coincided with the establishment of and continued investment in the best public university system in the world. Fifty years ago, forward-thinking policymakers declared that California would be a state where higher education was the birthright of every qualified resident. Since then, we’ve become the world’s great innovator in computers, biotechnology, space exploration, and clean technology.

Unfortunately, the vision that made California one of the largest and most diverse economies on the planet has fallen to the wayside in recent years, as Governor Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers have decided that it’s politically easier to balance state budgets on the backs of students.

The result? Student fees have more than doubled at the University of California and California State University systems over the past decade, and enrollment was reduced by more than 45,000 in the past two years. When you price students out of a college education, you don’t just harm the individual. You deny the state the future teachers, nurses, and engineers necessary to propel our economy forward.

There’s more…

Undergraduate Student Fee Increases at UC and CSUAccording to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, if California fails to significantly boost its college enrollment rates soon, we will have one million fewer college graduates than required to keep pace with the growth of our economy by 2025.

“California faces a skills gap,” PPIC’s Hans Johnson explains. “There will not be enough young adults with a college education to meet the increase in demand for highly educated workers after the baby boomers retire.”

Other studies show that for every dollar the state invests in UC and CSU, it gets back $5.67 and $4.41 respectively in long term economic output. Taking a long view, higher education in California pays for itself and then some, meaning every qualified student we force away from a higher education is a dent in California’s productivity and output. Taxing students is simply bad fiscal policy. Luckily, there’s a better way.

California can maintain its commitment to higher education without taking a penny more away from students or the general population. California is the only oil-producing state in the nation without an oil severance tax. When the building blocks of our economic development are in jeopardy, why should we let the oil companies take California’s oil for free?

The University of Texas has been endowed by an oil severance tax since the 1800s, and in 2007, then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin instituted a 25 percent oil severance tax in her home state. If it works for Texas and Alaska, why shouldn’t California consider it?

In January, the California Assembly approved AB 656, a bill by Assemblymember Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont, CA) that would follow the Texas model by taxing oil production in California to help fund higher education. The 9.9 percent oil severance tax created in the bill would generate nearly $2 billion for UC, CSU, and California’s community colleges, helping to bring enrollment closer to the state’s needs and helping to reduce the burden imposed on students struggling to stay afloat.

This week marked the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the California State University system. Since 1960, it has conferred 2.5 million degrees and helped create a broad swath of Californians prepared to contribute to California’s economic development. For most of my lifetime, California’s system of higher education has been the envy of the world, and we have reason to celebrate our past success.

Yet the history of human civilization is replete with examples of great societies that fell into decline when they no longer prioritized education. What will happen to California if we continue to systematically defund higher education at the expense of our future workforce?

You can call the draconian increases in tuition happening to California’s students taxes or fees. Whatever they are, they are bad economics. Our students are right to be angry, and for the future of California, I stand with them.

Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek) represents California’s 10th Congressional District. As California’s Lieutenant Governor from 2007 to 2009, he served as a University of California regent and California State University trustee.

Funding for CSU’s and UC’s Defeated

AB 656, authored by Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, would have established an oil and gas severance tax (California being the only oil and gas producing state in the union not having one) and earmarked the proceeds for puiblic higher education, giving our universities a financial base upon which to operate and easing the burden on the general fund.

On Thursday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee took action on it that essentially defeats the bill for this legislative cycle. The committee deleted the oil and gas severance tax portion of the bill and replaced it with a simple reporting requirement. The amendments require the state Board of Equalization to annually report to the legislature the amount of revenue that would be generated for public higher education if the oil and gas tax was implemented.

Maybe it can be resurrected as we get closer to trying to deal with this year’s budget problems, especially since the Governor has placed a high priority on helping the CSU’s and UC’s recoup some of their cuts.  This could be the way top offset the Governor’s political shenanigans of trying to play off higher education unions against the prison unions.  

A UC Student’s Perspective on the Fee Increase Fight.


   On November 19th, 52 UC Davis students were arrested after peacefully protesting the new 32% fee increases established by the UC Regents. As a second year undergraduate, I was hopeful that students were beginning to see the bigger picture: California is broken.

   Students, so far, have been forcing most of the blame on the UC Regents. While it is true that the 20 Regents who voted for the increase certainly deserve a heaving portion of the blame for borrowing tens of millions (from a non-CA bank, NY Merrill Trust) while forcing students into a cycle of debt in order to protect UC’s eerily superb bond rating, the only way for students to move towards enacting change is to recognize that UC’s woes are symptomatic of the larger disease that has infected the entire state.

   The UC student, to widen the umbrella for a movement that might have the capability of rallying support for reform, should understand that he or she risks turning people off by angling attacks towards the Regents and the Regents only. It is important to recognize that while it is a travesty that UC is becoming an unaffordable option for many California families, it is nearsighted to think that UC fees are anything more than a slice of the pie that is California’s broken political system. The state workers that have been furloughed, the elderly Californians that are losing their access to Medicare, the thousands of previously middle-class Californians that have had their homes foreclosed, and the over 12% of California that is unemployed might tell students that UC is not the only government program that is underfunded, mismanaged, and increasingly unavailable to the people who need it.


 To the single mother making $30,000 a year or the undocumented immigrant working in poor labor conditions for a less-than-legal salary, the plight of the students might seem distant and unimportant. The reality of the situation is that students are making valid points, but they are doing so in a way that turns off the millions of Californians that should be turned on by the students’ overarching message of reforming California.

   When the student recognizes that the immediate and long term problems caused by UC’s fee increases are tied together with the struggles of working families, immigrants, the elderly, homeowners, borrowers, the unemployed, water drinkers, and dozens of other California communities and interest groups, then, perhaps, we will see forward progress.

   The first point that needs to be made by students (that might catch on) is that the programs that made our state great in the 50s and 60s cannot continue to exist without proper funding.

   The message should be loud and clear: raising revenue does not mean higher taxes for everybody, it means looking at who and what gets taxed in this state, and what kind of people are hurt when programs lose funding. Here are three problems that have been generally accepted among the progressive community to be at the heart of the problem:

   Lack of an oil-severance tax in California. Who wins? Big Oil. Who loses? The People. AB 656 (Torrico) would use a 9.9% tax on Gross Product to generate up to $1 billion annually for programs like UC, CSU and CCC.

   2/3rds majority required to pass anything that raises revenue. Who wins? The CaGOP and Big Business. Who loses? Again, The People. Republicans who are indebted to special interest groups that represent Big Business are able to crush the programs that help make the California Dream a reality for many working Californians. AB 656 is expected to be an easy kill for the Republican minority, even though California is the only state in the union that does not have an oil severance tax (including Sarah’s AK and GWB’s TX).

   Proposition 13. Who wins? Big Business. Who Loses? The People. The remains of the Jarvis Taxpayer Revolution act as the most regressive and harmful tax policy in the state. With the veil of providing economic safety for elderly residents without a fixed income, the anti-tax era cursed California’s future with budget shortfalls and program cuts. It is apparent, now, that Californians can’t have our cake and eat it, too.

   So, students should be asking the question: Why is it that Chevron, Monsanto, and Walmart are allowed to raise revenue while the State of California isn’t? Why is it that CEOs are getting pay raises while the People are getting both pay cuts and program cuts?

   The students are right: the State of California has left them for dead, but they are not alone. Almost every Californian uses some sort of state-sponsored program, whether that be a UC, a public elementary school, a library, or the DMV. If you’re one of those people, and if you haven’t gotten a pay raise, then you should be ticked off, too.

A Green Industrial Revolution for a Golden State

NOTE: These are my prepared remarks for today’s keynote address as the Scripps Seaside Forum, sponsored by the Sustainability Alliance of Southern California, Heartland Foundation-United Green and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

It’s great to be at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, one of our country’s most important research facilities. The work of this institute has led the way in understanding climate change, the effect of the warming oceans and how we can adapt to the inevitable changes in our environment.  

I’m here today to talk to you about the next industrial revolution. The world’s economies are fueled by carbon based fuels that have polluted our atmosphere and set up a warming climate. Now when I talk about the next revolution, I don’t mean the coal-and-oil fueled economy of yesteryear. The irrefutable science of climate change requires that we take a different path, and with sound investments in renewable energy, green technology, and education, we can create a new green industrial revolution that will put countless thousands of our residents back to work.  

President Obama understands what’s at stake. Under his stimulus package, California is expected to receive more than $1.5 billion for job-creating alternative energy, energy efficiency, energy conservation, and other energy and climate related efforts. Included in this estimate, the U.S. Treasury and Energy Departments announced that at least $3 billion in competitive grants will be distributed nationwide to support an estimated 5,000 biomass, solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects. Note to Secretary Chu: consider using some of the $3 billion as a loan guarantee, thereby expanding the use of the funds.

Incentives for renewable energy generation and installation are also fueling the growth in green jobs. In just the first four months of 2009, solar installations nearly tripled compared to the year prior. Homeowners, businesses, and government all benefit from the California Solar Initiative (CSI), which provides incentives that reduce the total cost of installed systems by an average of 20 percent. Signed into law in 2006, the CSI aims to install 3,000 MW of new solar power by offering $3 billion in solar rebates over 10 years. Additionally, businesses and homeowners qualify for a federal investment tax credit of 30 percent on renewable energy systems. According to the California Community Colleges Centers of Excellence, the solar industry in California is on pace to produce 40,000 new jobs by 2016.

More over the flip…

We are seeing real progress. Today’s global economic crisis can be combated with a strong commitment to green job growth. Unemployed construction workers with minimal retraining will begin installing solar panels and wind turbines. Today’s college engineering students will be the engineers of the future, designing new renewable power plants. Scientists will find additional resources and demand to research cutting edge renewable energies like tidal, algae, or fusion power. In a very real sense, the future is now.

So where do we go from here? First and foremost, we must recommit resources to education at all levels. The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California recently found that if current trends continue, California will have one million college graduates fewer than required to keep pace with our economy’s potential growth. As the PPIC explains, “Cuts in education funding work against the state’s long term interests. […] Unless decisions and actions are taken soon to improve educational outcomes for Californians, the state’s future economy and the prosperity of its residents will be compromised.”

California’s future business climate requires a well-educated workforce, yet we are near the bottom in per pupil K-12 spending. When we cut classes, remove extracurricular enrichment, and overstuff classrooms, we deprive our students of the tools they require to succeed in a competitive global economy. From biotechnology to Internet technology, much of California’s economic prosperity depends on a scientifically literate population, yet we are at risk of leaving a generation behind. We can do better.

Higher education is also at risk. I used to say California higher education is on a slow road to starvation, but the pace seems to be quickening with every passing year. Adjusted for inflation, student fees have more than doubled at the California State University and University of California, and more than tripled at our community colleges. In 1980, 17 percent of the state budget went to higher education. This year, higher education only received 10 percent. The result: furloughs of professors and staff, 40,000 qualified students will not enter the CSU system, and more than 2,000 will not enter the UC system. These are the engineers, technicians, teachers, and nurses that we need to grow our economy. Bottom line: the best investment is education. It has a $4.31 return for every dollar we spend. We must reinvest in education, and that is why I support an oil severance charge that would generate more than $1 billion yearly for higher education.

We are at the forefront of a green industrial revolution, and how we respond to this opportunity determines our state’s future. California’s success was based on a robust, entrepreneurial private sector and prudent state investments. Job growth, environmental sustainability, and quality affordable education are interconnected like never before. The federal government is providing us with some of the tools we require to jumpstart our economy. Let’s take the baton and make California the Golden State once again.

John Garamendi is California’s Lieutenant Governor, chair of the California Commission for Economic Development, a University of California Regent, and a California State University Trustee. As a State Legislator, he authored California’s first alternative energy tax incentive.