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Urging California Legislative Leaders to Choose CSU

Toni Molle



​Chancellor White joined campus leaders, students, faculty, staff, and alumni as they took part in California State University's Legislative Advocacy Day in Sacramento March 14. Goals of the annual trip to the Capitol are to meet one-on-one with lawmakers to illustrate CSU's many contributions to the state and to advocate for an increased investment of available discretionary state funding dollars.

This year White was joined by delegations from 22 campuses and 13 campus presidents. In addition, the chancellor was joined in key meetings by representatives of California State Student Association (CSSA), California State University Employees Union (CSUEU), and the Academic Senate. There were a total of six group meetings that included Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes, Senate Republican leader Jean Fuller, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and the CA Women's Legislative Caucus.

Topics of discussion included California's urgent need for an educated workforce and the importance of having a fully funded CSU budget. Chancellor White and members of the delegation talked about CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025 and how with proper funding, CSU campuses will be able to graduate an additional 500,000 students over the next dozen years to fill a projected "drought" of one million bachelor's degree recipients.

Governor Brown's 2017-18 budget proposal released in January allocated approximately $157 million, less than half of the trustees' request to meet the university's true operating needs. While the CSU is grateful for the investment, there is a gap of $167​.7 million.

For years the CSU has been forced to do more with less. State funding was cut by nearly $1 billion during the recession. Although the funding was eventually restored by 2016-17, the CSU's 23 campuses now serve 20,000 more students than in 2007.

"By providing students the opportunity to earn timely, high-quality degrees and closing achievement gaps through Graduation Initiative 2025 we will drive the economic and social futures of millions of Californians and their families," White said during a session with campus delegations, "The CSU desperately needs a strong commitment from the state to fulfill our audacious goals, ensure opportunities to a quality, affordable education, and to end the degree drought."

CSU graduation and retention rates are at all-time highs. The CSU is committed to improving student achievement, but cannot achieve its goals without increased funding to offer more high-demand courses, hire more faculty and provide additional academic and student support services.

In May, Governor Brown will issue his Budget Revision. CSU leaders, students, faculty, staff, alumni and other stakeholders will continue their advocacy work with the governor and Legislature through the remainder of the budget cycle. Interested parties can also engage the CSU and legislators to encourage adequate funding for the university and via social media by using the hashtag #chooseCSU.

The message is clear--investing in the CSU is an investment in the future of California.​​

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