Reports from the Standing Committees
Fiscal and Governmental Affairs Committee
Praveen Soni (Long Beach), Chair
George Ashkar and Sedong Jong from Administration and Finance in the Chancellor’s Office met with the FGA Committee and presented a spreadsheet showing the CSU Financial Statements of revenues, expenses, and net assets for the last five years (2008-2012). This is the first time that the committee has looked at CSU financial information. The information and the discussion were quite illuminating. George and Sedong agreed to meet with the committee next year after incorporating some of the suggestions to make the statements more descriptive and provide comparisons with similar institutions. It is expected that such information will be shared with the committee on an ongoing basis.
The FGA Committee also heard from Andy Merrifield of the CFA. The CFA is sponsoring AB 895 (Rendon) to study and evaluate online education while opposing SB 520 (Steinberg). Andy stated that the $38m in compensation will have to be bargained for, and while the shift in healthcare costs to employees is not in the legislative language, the CSU could still move to bargain for it. The CFA has not seen any proposal from the administration as yet.
The FGA Committee also met via teleconference with Wess Larson of the CSU Office of Advocacy and State Relations who apprised the committee of the status of legislative bills pertaining to online education such as AB 386, AB 387, SB 440, SB 520 and SB 547. Wess also provided some information on SB 195 by Liu on accountability in higher education. He stated that the CSU has asked the legislature for an additional $54m for an enrollment increase of 15,000 students and $50m for deferred maintenance.
Robert Turnage, the Budget Director from the Chancellor’s Office, met with the committee via teleconference. He stated that the May revise on the 2013-14 budget maintained the status quo of the January proposed budget – no additional increases in funds and nothing taken away. He also stated that there were differing accounts of the state revenue picture from the Department of Finance and from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), with the LAO painting a rosier picture. The May revise removed language about shifting of healthcare costs and bond obligations.
The Committee worked on improving two second reading resolutions. These were resolutions in support of AB 386 and AB 387 by Levine. In addition, the committee worked on developing first reading/waiver resolutions in support of SB 241 (Evans): Oil and Gas Severance Tax, conditional support for SB 547 (Block), and opposition to SB 440 (Padilla).
The FGA Committee reviewed the Chancellor’s Office (CO) response to resolutions sponsored by the FGA in 2012-13. Chair Soni was asked to work with the Academic Affairs Committee and with the CO in clarifying and narrowing the scope of the task force to study student tuition, fees, and financial aid. In addition, the committee was concerned that the CSU administration may move to shift healthcare costs to employees when the ASCSU had approved a resolution strongly opposing such action. Chair Soni was requested to work with ASCSU Chair Guerin to express our concerns and take action on the matter.
Finally, FGA discussed a draft of Legislative Principles to guide the ASCSU in working with legislators on various bills of interest to higher education. Work on this draft will continue. It is intended that the Legislative Principles will have a first reading in September and be approved in November.