|Budget update -- February 2004|
NOTE: The following e-mail message was sent by President Robert A. Corrigan to SFSU faculty and staff on Feb. 27, 2004
Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues:
I write for two purposes. It is time to update you again on San Francisco State's budget and on our evolving planning for the upcoming year. And with Election Day, March 2, less than a week away, I also want to call your attention to several ballot items that affect the University, either directly or indirectly. Above all, I urge you to vote.
First, about our 2004-2005 budget:
1. What have we learned since the first budget Q & A to faculty, staff and students?
The big news since my original message is the Governor's Budget, which was released in January. It calls for a $239 million general fund reduction for the California State University. The Governor proposes to partially offset this funding cut by fee increases of 10 percent for undergraduates; 40 percent for graduate students, and 20 percent for non-resident students. The CSU, in turn, has proposed a 5% enrollment cut to reduce costs.
Based on the Governor's plan, San Francisco State's share of the CSU net cut would be around $10 million. But as I explained in the Q&A, while we have succeeded during this year in finding ways to close $8.3 million of the $11.2 million budget shortfall we projected for 2004-2005, making additional permanent reductions and exhausting all our sources of revenue, we knew that we were still going to start the next fiscal year $2.9 million in the red -- and that was before we saw the Governor's budget. So at the moment, we are facing the need to cut an additional $13 million from our already bare-bones budget.
2. But what if we put pressure on the Governor? Can't we get a better deal?
We have been told repeatedly by Chancellor Reed and others knowledgeable about the political environment in Sacramento that the Governor's budget is the best we can hope for. Given the state's dire fiscal picture and the fierce competition for the tiny slice of the state's budget -- 15% -- that is not locked in by earlier legislation or propositions, the chancellor feels that we cannot realistically expect a restoration of funds. Things could, however, get worse if state revenues between now and May fall below early projections and some of the Governor's assumptions do not hold. In that case, the "May Revise" -- the revision of the Governor's budget to reflect updated information -- might mean additional cuts for higher education.
I am not trying to alarm you, merely to speak frankly and share with you the information that the campus presidents are receiving from the Chancellor's Office, from our friends in the legislature, and from impartial outside sources.
3. Isn't there anything we can do to improve our situation?
Closing the $2.9 million gap: The March 2-3 Student Fee Referendum
Yes there is. As I wrote in my earlier budget message, to deal with the $2.9 million gap that we could foresee even before the Governor released his budget, we would need to cut more deeply into the University budget in ways that are bound to affect academic offerings, and/or we would need to develop campus sources of revenue.
The Student Fee Referendum is our only possibility for new campus revenue. On March 2 and 3, students will vote on a $75 per semester Academic Instruction fee, designed to maintain 575 course sections that would otherwise be cut. Pro and con statements about this and three other fee proposals have been printed in the Gater Xpress, are being circulated in booklets, and are available on-line at www.sfsu.edu/~puboff/referendum/. I urge students to inform themselves about these ballot items and to vote on March 2 or March 3 at one of the half dozen polling places that will be set up on campus.
People are talking about what next year's budget will mean. There are rumors that we will lose the vast majority of our lecturers and students in at least one department are under the impression that their program will be eliminated. Are these things true?
It is still too early in the budget process to estimate the full extent of our loss. At this point, I do not believe that we are in danger of a wholesale loss of lecturers, though if the Academic Instruction fee and Proposition 57 (the Governor's bond initiative) are defeated, that could turn out to be the case. No decisions have been made to cut any program or department.
You are part of the conversation about the budget: March 3 and 4 Town Hall Meetings
These are unsettling times for all of us. Clear and final information about our 2004-05 budget is several months away and I know that it is impossible not to worry about the effects of the decisions that lie ahead. I can assure you, however, that I will not only keep you informed about the budget, but will seek out your voices and your views this spring. Accordingly, I invite you to attend either of the two Town Hall meetings on the budget that we have scheduled for faculty and staff during the coming week. The sessions will be held on Wednesday, March 3, and Thursday, March 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. in McKenna Theatre. Provost Gemello, Vice President Morishita, I and Senate Chair Edwards will be on hand. You'll get the latest information, but during the meetings, we particularly want to hear from you -- your questions, opinions, suggestions. We will come through this time best if we join all our minds and hearts in dealing with our budget issues in ways that are true to the University's values and mission.
The March 2 Statewide Ballot:
The stakes are high for the State of California and for higher education in the March 2 election. Two propositions affect the CSU and San Francisco State, and I urge you to inform yourself fully about both of them.
If voters approve Proposition 55, the $12.3 billion statewide public education bond measure, schools throughout California, from kindergarten through university, would receive funding for new construction and building improvements. San Francisco State would receive nearly $4 million for computers, desks and tables to outfit the soon-to-be remodeled J. Paul Leonard Library. For more information about Prop. 55, click on the Education Bond Measure prompt on SFSU's home page.
Proposition 57, the Governor's $15 billion bond measure, seeks to raise funds to close the current State budget gap. A great deal of information about this measure is available publicly. If the proposition is defeated, the resulting budget gap will mean significant additional cuts to state agencies, including the CSU. For impartial, pro and con information on this proposition and other measures on the March 2 ballot, I suggest that you go to the League of Women Voters site.
We pride ourselves on being a civically engaged university. Let us all live out that value next Tuesday, and VOTE.
-- Robert A. Corrigan, president
1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (415) 338-1111