Center for California Studies
Center for California Studies, $3,192,000
(Center and Program Funding Total Request)
Mission and Overview. The Center for California Studies is a unit of the CSU whose mission is to strengthen democratic governance in California through preparing people for public service and leadership, helping to solve problems of public policy, and enhancing civic literacy through multidisciplinary education. Central to this mission is the administration of a number of fellowship, internship, and other programs. The Assembly, Executive, Judicial, and Senate fellowship programs annually provide experiential education on the policy-making process to 64 college graduates from across the state. At the same time, the fellows provide valuable professional work to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of state government. During their fellowships, fellows also take graduate classes on California government issues at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State). The LegiSchool Project provides high school students a hands-on opportunity to participate in legislative debates on issues that directly affect them. The Sacramento Semester Program provides undergraduate students from throughout the state with internship opportunities in a variety of state government and legislative positions in Sacramento. Participants earn six units in internship credit plus six units in an accompanying seminar course in state government and politics, which integrates the internship experience with academic work. The Faculty Research Fellows Program provides for directed faculty and staff research on topics requested by the Legislature and/or executive branch agencies. Faculty from throughout the CSU system are eligible to receive research grants under this program, and projects result in papers, conference presentations, symposia, and similar public service activities.
Budget Background. The Center's budget covers a range of costs, including: staff salaries and benefits; stipends, benefits, and graduate tuition for 64 Capitol Fellows; direct grants for the Faculty Research Fellows program; and miscellaneous other costs. In recent years, the Center has experienced a variety of cost pressures, including increased tuition costs for its Fellows, expanded conference commitments, and general price increases. Due to state budget constraints, however, the Center has received no base budget augmentations since 2007/08 (and in fact the current allocation is 5 percent below the 2007/08 amount). Instead, the Center has addressed cost increases through a variety of efficiency measures, cost-cutting efforts, and one-time savings. While the Center has been able to carry out its core functions during this period, the current budget cannot support further cost increases without harming the Center's ability to fulfill its mission.
Current Year Cost Pressures. Unlike the Center, the CSU received a 5 percent base General Fund augmentation in the current year to fund salary increases, enrollment growth, and other cost pressures. Given that the Center is obligated to pay to its classified staff any increases that are collectively bargained by the CSU, the Center faces new cost increases for which no funding has been provided. In addition, the Center continues to face pent-up cost pressures related to the Fellows programs and other activities.
Appropriation Request. For 2014/15, the Center requests a 5 percent General Fund augmentation, which is consistent with the General Fund augmentation that is anticipated for the rest of the CSU system under the Administration's multi-year funding plan. This augmentation of $152,000 would permit the Center to fund anticipated cost increases and to begin to address mounting concerns about the financial accessibility of its student-oriented programs. Specifically, the augmentation would fund the following priorities:
- Capital Fellows Program Relocation Grant ($16,000). Each year, the Center selects 64 individuals from throughout California and beyond to spend 10-11 months as Capital Fellows. Virtually all of these Fellows must relocate, either to Sacramento (for Assembly, Senate, and Executive Fellows) or a superior court site (Judicial Administration Fellows). These Fellows encounter significant up-front costs in the form of rental and security deposits, air fare and other travel costs, purchase of professional attire, etc. While all Fellows are paid a small monthly stipend to cover their living costs, many find it difficult to cover the up-front costs that they encounter. The Legislature and Governor have in recent years expressed concern that the Capital Fellows programs remain affordable and accessible to a diverse range of individuals, and for this reason we propose to provide a $250 relocation grant to all incoming Fellows.
- Cost-of-Living and Inflation Adjustments ($130,000). Center staff and Capital Fellows have not received a cost-of-living adjustment since 2007/08. We anticipate the university will bargain an increase of up to 5 percent, which will proportionately increase the Center's personnel costs. We also propose to increase Fellows' stipends by the same percentage. (The current stipend of $1,972 per month has not been increased since 2004/05.) In addition, the requested funding would cover continuing inflationary increases to the Center's operating costs.
- Expansion of Financial Aid for Sacramento Semester students ($6,000). Currently the Center annually allocates $44,000 for financial aid to Sacramento Semester students. These students come to Sacramento from all campuses of the CSU system, and are responsible for paying their own room, board, and tuition for the spring semester. The grants are intended to help cover a portion of these costs, and are made available on the basis of need. Requests for aid typically exceed available funding, which can threaten the ability of the program to serve a diverse range of students. This augmentation request would permit roughly a 14 percent expansion of financial aid.