Cal State trustees begin budget cuts process

Demonstrators carrying a banner that says
Demonstrators carrying a banner that says "I Can't Afford to go to College. Solution: No Cuts" past Royce Hall on the campus at UCLA in Los Angeles Thursday, March 4, 2010. Students, teachers, parents and others rallied throughout California and many other states to protest deep cuts in funding for schools and universities. Governor Jerry Brown announced another round of cuts to higher education Monday, Jan. 10, 2010.
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For the first time since Gov. Jerry Brown announced $500,000 million in proposed cuts to the California State University, trustees of the system began the budget-cutting process Tuesday at their scheduled meeting in Long Beach.

Cal State won’t close the funding gap by raising student tuition next year, said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed at the meeting. Instead, he added, the university will target its largest expenditure, compensation of its employees.

"It’s not going to be pretty, I can tell you that. It’s going to affect a lot of people. About 84 percent of our budget is tied up into salaries and benefits, so we’re going to have to downsize the CSU and so that’s going to be the most painful part," Reed said.

How the cuts are spread out is important, said Patrick Gantt, president of the California State University Employees Union. It represents 16,000 Cal State administrative workers.

"As a union president my best-case scenario is to minimize the impact of layoffs or loss of people I represent, the positions they work, wages, hours, working conditions. We basically want to continue to serve the students and minimize loss of jobs," Gantt said.

It’s a big year for his union as its labor contract expires and negotiations with Cal State begin.

It was the first meeting for recently appointed trustee and new Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. He told administrators he'd like to see more openness in the budget process.

"I think the issue of transparency is going to be the primary issue to what we can move forward with the difficult issues of addressing the state budget cuts and the issues that are presented to us day in and day out," Newsom told trustees.

CSU Chancellor Reed said the budget cuts process is on fast forward this year as the governor wants to have cuts negotiated by March in preparation for a budget-deficit ballot measure he plans to endorse to extend several taxes.

Trustees made no specific budget cutting decisions at the meeting. They did raise fees for about 700 education doctoral students. Reed said he'll give trustees more specific budget cut proposals at their March meeting.