Fiscal and Governmental Affairs Committee
Praveen Soni (Long Beach), Chair
Chair Soni started the meeting by thanking all the members of the FGA Committee for their great work throughout the year, and especially their energy and enthusiasm on the ASCSU Advocacy Day (April 22). It was a long day and a great success. Along with the ASCSU Executive Committee members, we met with over 40 legislators and/or staff, including members of the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst’s Office. In particular, we met with Speaker John Pérez, Chair of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee Das Williams, and Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff. Our main focus was seeking an additional $95m for the 2014-15 CSU budget.
The committee met with Mollie Quasebarth and others of the CA Department of Finance via teleconference. The May Revision to the 2014-15 budget had been released. State revenues are expected to be up by $2.4 billion, but so are the expenses by about the same amount and thus the CSU was not allocated funds in addition to the $142 million already budgeted.
The FGA Committee also chatted with Judy Heiman of the Legislative Analyst’s office; she also apprised the Committee about the May Revision and reminded us about the $50 million budgeted for awards for innovation for the three segments of higher education. This money will be allocated based upon improving graduation rates and transfer rates at the three segments. She also talked about the State University Grants (SUGs) whereby the CSU Board of Trustees sets aside a third of the tuition increases for financial aid. According to Heiman, this practice is not binding since it is not in statute, but it is the intent of the CSU. The Student Success fees may be a means by which campuses are trying to fill this gap in funding.
A representative from the CSU’s Sacramento Office of Advocacy and Institutional Relations provided an update on the bills and stated that advocacy for the additional $95m is ongoing with the Legislature. Also AB 2324 is moving along in the legislature without dissent. AB 2324 allows a current faculty trustee to continue to serve on the CSU Board of Trustees after their term has expired until the Governor appoints a new faculty trustee. The idea is to have a continual faculty presence on the Board.
Andy Merrifield of the California Faculty Association also provided an update as well as shared with the committee the matrix of CFA positions on various legislative bills.
Mr. Sedong John of the Chancellor’s Office of Finance was very kind to prepare the financial statements for the last five years for CSU Auxiliary organizations and send them to the committee electronically.
The FGA Committee worked upon and finalized a draft of a resolution on Student Success fees for the plenary. After much discussion about the pros and cons of such fees, the committee agreed that a task force to study the impact of such fees is warranted. Some members in the legislature have expressed their concern about such fees circumventing the agreement between the Governor and the CSU not to increase tuition for four years while the CSU budget is augmented with state funds. There is also concern about the impact of such fees on low – income students.
The FGA Committee also discussed some new bills that have been introduced and decided only to watch AB 1969. The Committee decided not to recommend changes in positions to bills in the omnibus resolution approved by the ASCSU at its March plenary.