Cal State trustees approve plan that seeks more state funding

Cal State University trustees Wednesday asked the state to increase funding for enrollment and other needs, despite doubts from Gov. Jerry Brown and the prospect of a tough sell during rough-and-tumble budget negotiations.

Meeting in Long Beach, the Board of Trustees approved a plan that seeks an additional $237.6 million in state funding to hire 500 new full-time faculty and increase enrollment by 20,000 students for 2014-2015.

The panel’s finance committee had approved the plan a day earlier even though Brown, who was at the meeting, warned it might run into trouble amid competing demands to address prison overcrowding, firefighting costs and other state obligations.

Brown is expected to seek an increase of $142.2 million each for the Cal State and University of California systems in a budget proposal that will go the legislature in January.

At Wednesday’s meeting, students and faculty vowed to lobby lawmakers for the full funding request.

“Students are definitely in support of a request that provides the services and courses students need to be successful,” Sarah Couch, president of the California State Student Assn., said following the session.

Spending to increase full-time faculty, for example, directly impacts how quickly students move toward graduation, said Couch, who is studying for a master’s in English literature at Sacramento State University.

She was unable to enroll in all of the courses she wanted this semester because there were not enough full-time, tenure-track professors to teach them, she said.

Tax revenues produced by Proposition 30 have meant more financial stability for Cal State, the University of California and community colleges. But many campuses continue to be plagued by budget problems.

San Jose State said it may have to cut classes for the spring semester after it was determined that spending on instruction this year would exceed limits by about $3.8 million.

Department heads there learned late last month that they would need to adjust class schedules just as spring registration was about to commence.

The campus was able to eliminate a $32-million deficit over the last two years, but funding has not returned to pre-recession levels, said San Jose spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris. As a result, the campus must check spending throughout the year.

“For the instructors, it was a surprise,” Harris said. “They felt to the best of their knowledge they did what they needed to do and were on an upward trajectory this year. Right now, we’re trying to get a handle on things and decide what to do moving forward.”

Administrators at the 32,000-student campus are trying to find options that would avoid or minimize class cuts, Harris said.

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