Think CSU funding is safe? Don’t believe the hype–it isn’t

10 10 2010

 

Dennis Hollingsworth and Darrell Steinberg

Budget deal? Or shell game?

 

Photo courtesy of Associated Press

As I watched the news and read Chico State President Paul Zingg’s reaction to the budget, I was struck by the optimism displayed by both the news anchors and Zingg.

While I hate to be a spoilsport, I have to ask:  did anybody actually read the budget?

The budget summary says, “The Budget Act closes an estimated budget gap of $19.3 billion by a combination of expenditure reductions, federal funds, and other solutions.”  Well, that’s a polite way of saying accounting tricks and wishful thinking.

This budget that was passed has a really big hole–and that hole is about $5.4 billion dollars wide.  So what do they think they’ll get additional funds for?

1.  Federal reimbursement for the cost of incarcerating undocumented immigrant felons.  (Uh huh, because no other administration has tried to get reimbursed.  They must have just forgot.  Glad to know it’s being fixed. 😛 )

2.  Special education–$1 billion worth.

3.  An increase in the state’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage and money owed to the state for incorrect Medicare disability determinations.

For the CSUs and UCs, the budget assumes that $106 million apiece can be saved by shifting costs to what’s called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.  There’s just one problem though.  It’s one-time funding only.  What happens next year?

Let’s now ask the question:  if the Democrats, who cast themselves as the friends of higher education and the poor, weren’t willing to give the state $5.4 billion–why does California think that the Republicans, who are casting themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility and will probably take back the House and Senate, would give them that kind of money?

The answer, of course, is that they won’t.  Neither party is willing to bail out California.

So we still have $5.4 billion that doesn’t exist, but it’s assumed the money will eventually show up.  Somehow.

If it doesn’t appear, what happens in the middle of the fiscal year?

That’s right.  Budgets start to be cut.  Fees start to be raised.  The word “furloughs” will come up again.

I would prefer to be wrong.  I would like to be the person who cried “wolf” and was made a fool of by Congress adding over $5 billion into the state budget.  I could live with that.

But I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to be proved right.

And that doesn’t please me one damn bit.  Not this time.

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