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Recycling center sees hope in state bill

From lawsuits to student government intervention, there are a few funding options for Associated Students Inc.’s financially strapped recycling center.

Lee Johnson, ASI recycling coordinator, said the recycling center might have to stop some of its services if the state doesn’t begin paying the center the amount it used to from its Beverage Container Recycling Fund. Another option is for ASI to restart subsidizing the center, which it last did in 2006-07 with $28,000, according to Richard Haller, ASI executive director.

The state of California has drastically reduced funding for its recycling program, borrowing funding from the Beverage Container Recycling Fund due to its budget crisis.

Complicating matters is the commodities market, which recycling centers sell their scrap material to. It had a large drop starting in 2008 — the year a major recession hit the United States.

This has all moved some state legislators to try to pass ABX8 7. According to Californians Against Waste, it would retroactively refund core money for the recycling fund and will “temporarily stabilize the fund.”

Bryan Early, a policy associate for the environmental organization, said the bill passed the state Senate on Feb. 19. The state Assembly was still voting on the bill as of Monday night.

Another funding option for the beleaguered recycling center is subsidization by ASI. However, a reduction in student enrollment has challenged ASI’s ability to do that, according to ASI President Chris Chavez.

Due to state budget cuts, the California State University system reduced enrollment. Fewer students also meant lower revenue for ASI, which receives money from student fees.

However, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget provides 2.5 percent enrollment growth funding. This could allow Cal State Long Beach to gain 500 to 2,000 students, Chavez said.

Yet ASI is not anticipating the funding in its budget projections, Chavez said. That is because the governor’s proposal is dependent on increased federal funding coming into California.

Chavez said the budget situation could become difficult for ASI if the CSU system does not receive the governor’s proposed enrollment growth funding.

“It would be extraordinarily difficult to subsidize a program or really … keep things status quo in other divisions, as well,” Chavez said.

According to Chavez, ASI will know whether it could subsidize the recycling center as it pushes forward in the budgeting cycle. He said the first budget proposal will be sent to ASI’s board of control in late March, and the ASI Senate should approve the final budget sometime in May.

Other solutions for the recycling center’s financial woes include an ongoing lawsuit and additional state legislation.

The California Chamber of Commerce is among those suing the state of California to force it to refund money taken from the state’s recycling fund.

“[The state] reduced funding by 100 percent for most [recycling program] expenditures,” Early said. “It’s hard to see how they think that [reduction in funding] is not a fundamental challenge to the program.”

State legislators could also pass other legislation to provide funding for recyclers should the current recycling bill not pass.

Early said, “We’re definitely committed to making recyclers whole again as soon as possible.” 

 

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