CSU Letter to Applicants for Prop 30 is the Right Choice

The Editors

With hundreds of thousands of new applicants to the CSU system clamoring for their spot amongst the campuses, the CSU will be sending out an e-mail to its latent students beginning in October detailing what will happen to its funding if California Proposition 30 is to die at the polls.

If voters pass Prop 30 in November, the CSU, UC and K-12 systems across the state will get a much-needed boost in funding. If it fails, the CSU and UC will need to cut another $250 million from their budgets. That is nothing new for the CSU, as in recent years it has lost over $750 million in state funding. If the additional cut is made, it will represent a $1 billion or 35 percent loss in state support for the 23-campus educational system.

Prop 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, will raise income taxes on Californians who earn more than $250,000 annually, and increase the state sales tax a quarter cent. This has the capacity to help guide public education back onto the rails off which it has recently slipped.

In drafts of the letter, according to the Los Angeles Times, the CSU will inform its potential students, “because enrollment capacity is tied to the amount of available state funding, the campuses will be able to admit more applicants if Proposition 30 passes and fewer applicants if the proposition fails.”

A California taxpayer organization is claiming this letter is illegal, and is nothing more than government support for a bill, aiming to sway voters.

We wanted to give students and parents some sense of context as to why we are (holding) applications until the end of November,” CSU spokesperson Claudia Keith told the Los Angeles Times. “We are not advocating one way or the other. We are just laying out the facts of what the budget is and what impact this will have on our budget.”

State law experts say as long as the CSU refrains from directly advocating for one side of the issue or the other, the organization is in the clear. The letter will also feature a link to the “Yes on 30” and “No on 30” websites.

The CSU Board of Trustees has already approved a 5 percent tuition increase for the following enrollment periods if Prop 30 does not pass in November, after having already levied a 9 percent hike against students this fall. The 5 percent increase in tuition is estimated to generate $58 million in revenue for the CSU systems in 2012-2013 and would cost students an additional $150 per semester.

We at The Pioneer feel the CSU is making the best possible move to protect the interests of higher education and California’s citizens. An organization as fragile and stripped down as the CSU simply cannot afford another cut.

As members of an educational institution, we will always support the spread of unbiased, clear information. So long as the letter being sent to students is fair and purely informational, we stand behind it.

An informed voter is the most powerful tool left in our democracy. A clear explanation of the situation facing the CSU being sent to applicants is a strong move, and the right choice.