Cal State universities have already been hit hard by budget cuts, but now they’re bracing for more.
After a $750 million cut in state aid to the CSU system last year, CSUs are facing $250 million in cuts for this upcoming year.
But, there’s a catch.
They’ll retain that $250 million in state aid, if voters in November approve an increase in sales tax and income tax on high wage earners as proposed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Of that $250 million, approximately $5.5 million would go to CSU Bakersfield.
The governor is relying on that increased revenue to help keep contributions to schools, including the CSU system, steady from the year before. The state provided $2.1 billion in aid last year, and that number would stand at $2.06 billion this year if tax increases are approved in November, according to the CSU Office of Public Affairs.
The problem for CSUs, including CSU Bakersfield, is the fact they won’t know if the cuts are coming until November. So for now, they have to prepare for the upcoming school year, assuming they won’t have the extra funding from additional tax revenue.
“We have, unfortunately, for several years been in the mode of ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best,’” said CSUB spokesperson Robert Meszaros. “It’s a very uncertain and unpredictable time to be in.”
While new cuts based on the assumption the school will be without an extra $5.5 million are not finalized, one professor had an idea where cuts might come from.
“We’re spending about 84 percent of our budget on our personnel, so you can imagine where the impact will be,” said Dr. Andreas Gebauer, Chair of the CSUB Department of Chemistry.
Dr. Gebauer heads a faculty group that is set to meet with CSUB President Dr. Horace Mitchell on Tuesday morning to discuss the budget issues facing the university.
After their meeting, President Mitchell will address students and the public at a forum at . That forum is set to take place at the CSUB Student Union.
CSUB leaders say they simply have to discuss the cuts now, even though no one will know if they are actually going to happen until November.
Gov. Brown’s tax initiative polled well when it was released earlier in 2012. However, as CSUB officials point out, a lot can change between now and November, meaning universities have to assume they won’t get extra funding, so they’re not caught in a bind come this fall.
“We’re looking eagerly at what will happen in November. But, again there are no guarantees,” said Meszaros. “It’s all in the voters’ hands at this time.”