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Our View-CSU faces firing squad with potential ‘trigger cuts’

Once again, the California State University system is facing gruesome funding cuts. This time the CSU is under the gun of the federal stimulus package. If California doesn’t get enough cash, the CSU may be shot in the back with cuts for the third time this year.

It’s similar to having the same nightmare over and over again. Every time you close your eyes the monster is back, chasing you down a long dark hallway with rows and rows of locked doors. You can barely catch your breath as you frantically search for a way out, but there’s none; no open door and no one to help you. At that exact moment you realize you’ve been here before, BAM, you wake up.

Budget cuts have terrorized the CSUs since 2002. It seems every month we’re told of future system cuts in the form of enrollment caps, teacher layoffs, the chancellor giving money back to state government, higher tuition and the list goes on.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Department of Finance Director Mike Genest have the task of deciding if the amount our state gets from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be enough to prevent another budget cut.

Basically, they have to determine if the state will receive at least $10 billion from the stimulus package. If we do additional cuts might avoided. If we receive less than $10 billion, the state will pull the “trigger” and cut $50 million from the slowly dying system.

Our funding has already been slashed $607 million this academic year, so what’s another $50 million going to do?

“Additional budget cuts will not only decimate our state’s social programs but will also close the door of educational opportunity for tens of thousands of primarily low-income students and students of color; it will compromise any hope that our state has of restoring its economic prosperity,” wrote California Faculty Association President Lillian Taiz in a letter to Lockyer.

She also points out since 2002 almost $800 million has been cut from the CSU system. This Monday, California school teachers protested up and down the state because 26,000 may be fired or laid off. That’s equivalent to almost half of CSU faculty and staff members on all 23 campuses.

While Sacramento was debating state spending, balancing the budget and slashing educational funding, the state actually hired approximately 2,000 people for public services.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reasoned an increase in public service needs has demanded the hiring of more workers and in turn, created more jobs. This is all fine and dandy, but what about the thousands of teachers who may lose their jobs? What about the hundreds of severed class sections? What about us?

How can the Educ-Hater look anyone in the eye and say he is ordering a hiring freeze, justifying cutting state workers’ pay, while hiring a gang load of people? Does anyone in Sacramento understand how important education is?

There are apparently no answers to these questions because there is no one listening. We go through the same song-and-dance and nothing seems to make things better.

One thing is certain; we cannot continue raping California’s educational systems. Lockyer cannot allow another budget cut to hit us. To let him know how you feel, send an e-mail to cdiac_education@treasurer.ca.gov and cfa@calfac.org.

We have to get the treasurer’s finger off the trigger before we get shot in the back again.

It’s hard not to feel like our lives have become one big giant nightmare — someone please come wake us up.

 

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