California and the nation remain in the midst of the most enduring and deep economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the ability of the state to adequately fund higher education and other public programs has diminished greatly. The California State University is in its fourth year of fiscal crisis, with annual state support down by $868 million from the peak level of 2007/08 and the university facing the possibility in December 2011 of another $100 million “trigger” cut. If the “trigger” cut occurs, state support of the CSU will have declined by one-third.
With these unprecedented challenges, our efforts remain focused on maintaining the quality of instruction and services to students. We know that the state will continue to face fiscal challenges in 2012/13. California’s economic recovery and its longer-term economic and social future, however, depend on the state reinvesting in its people through higher education. This support budget request for 2012/13 is an important statement by the CSU Board of Trustees of what the university needs to fulfill its mission to the people of California during a time of fiscal challenge. The CSU graduated 98,895 students in 2010/11, addressing workforce needs in critical sectors such as agriculture, engineering, technology, media and computer science. There is a pressing demand for student access to the CSU, including a great need to accommodate growing numbers of community college transfers. All of this—access to education and the preparation of the state’s future workforce—depends on the state reinvesting in this great “university of the people.” This budget request is the next necessary step in this process of reinvestment.