Thursday, March 31, 2011

Budget Matters (Part II)

As bad as the Governor's original proposal was, the budget situation is now worse.  While it is possible that the collapse of the budget talks will turn out to be political theater that seems unlikely.  Instead, we are faced with a situation where the already terrible cuts to education, health, work programs, and social services will become worse.  Although Jerry Brown and the Democrats are talking about placing an initiative on the November ballot there is no certainty that they will be able to get the signatures, if they do it will compete with numerous republican backed initiatives including one on pensions, would then be considered a tax increase rather than an extension, and might not pass.  And of course without revenues programs will be hit harder over the summer and fall--most likely falling most heavily on the poor, the elderly, the sick and the young. 

For Higher Education the fallout has already begun.  The Community College System now expect their cuts to double in size and have announced that they expect to slash enrollments by approximately 400,000.  CSU had already announced that they were cutting faculty, staff, and enrollments--and this was before the collapse of the Budget talks.  Neither the Regents or UCOP have issued any statements yet but given the recent Regents meeting there is little evidence that they have any compelling plans--either for the short or the long-term situation. UCOP had estimated that even on the best-case scenario there would be 500 million in cuts compounded by several hundred in rising costs.  We are now far from a best case scenario.

We will keep you posted in case there are any new developments.  But faculty and staff need to insist that they have a voice in whatever strategies are adopted.  Please share campus news here.

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