Seventy-six million dollars isn’t a lot of money compared to the entire
state budget, but to the California State University (CSU) system, that sum
represents a sea change. Even while the Capitol is abuzz with talk about new
revenues and billions of dollars going to education, around the CSU the
attitude has been “a little more gruel is good enough.”
More than one-third of California’s state representatives attended a CSU,
yet there is a notion that the CSU should blunder along and do well enough.
Maybe we are all too used to it being there, not just for recent grads and
community-college transfer students, but also for the community programs,
the classes we’ve said we always meant to take, the grad program in public
administration, the teaching credential, the certification units for nursing
and public safety, and so on.
But the cuts since 2002 are akin to closing down three whole campuses
entirely. We’ve spread the cuts out so they are not so easy to see. But we
are in the process of eliminating our state universities under stealth.
That’s why hundreds of professors, students and CSU staff employees have
been pounding the halls at the Capitol since January pleading for more CSU
funding. The governor’s proposed budget for 2006-07 would provide only
enough to keep up with the new students. It would do nothing to make up for
half a billion dollars ripped from the CSU budget since 2002.
On Friday, the joint legislative-budget conference committee met to decide
whether to put an extra $76 million into the CSU budget. This would be
rebuilding money. Members of the Assembly budget subcommittee on education,
chaired by Mervyn Dymally, put that money into the proposal because they
know it is vital to the strength of the higher-education system in
California. Dymally and the members of the Assembly subcommittee are our CSU
There is a lot of lip service given to the greatness, contributions and
ideals reflected by the CSU. A recent bill, dead in the Senate and pushed by
the California Business Roundtable’s lobbying apparatus, would have
reiterated the sing-song about the CSU without sticking a new dime into the
The praise gives us a thrill, but it doesn’t pay the bills. The CSU needs