May 30, 2020

University community split on propositions

Fresno State President John D. Welty and the CSU Board of Trustees are among those that have chosen to endorse Propositions 1A through 1E for the May 19 statewide special election.

The League of Women Voters of California and the California Faculty Association, respectively, are among those in opposition, specifically to Prop. 1A.

CSU trustees said that given the fiscal crisis in the state, the measures were necessary to help solve a critical cash flow problem without precedent in California history.

“These measures are designed to bring much needed cash revenue to the state and will serve the CSU system well,” Trustee Bill Hauck said in a California State University news release on March 25.

According to President Welty, the passage would help stabilize the budget in the state of California.

It will not solve all of the problems, he said, but it is an important step that is important for higher education.

“For the 2009-10 year, it means that there is funding that will flow into the state budget in a matter of about $6 billion, which is part of the budget package that was passed in February,” Welty told The Collegian.

“If they don’t pass, then there would be an immediate $6 billion deficit in the state budget on top of what some believe is about $8 billion.”

Alice Sunshine, communications director with CFA, was one of four people who spoke against Proposition 1A during a statewide conference call last week.

“Supporters argue that it is a rainy day fund but we believe it is not a real rainy day fund because it has loopholes in it,” Sunshine said. “The truth is, it is already raining on us.”

Proposition 1A would increase the amount of money set aside in the state’s rainy day account by increasing how much money is put into it and restricting the withdrawal of these funds.

Welty acknowledged that if voters stepped back and looked at the propositions, they would probably not advocate these steps in order to balance a budget.

“But I think it is a step forward to begin moving the state toward some budget stability rather than this dramatic [process] that we go through,” he said.

When there is a recession, there is typically a sharp drop in revenues. And when things are going well, there is typically an increase.

The League of Women voters argues that Prop. 1A was hastily drafted behind closed doors, in secret budget negotiations, and passed on to voters in the dead of night without a single public hearing or any independent analysis of how it would actually work.

The League of Women voters recommends a No vote on propositions 1A, 1C, 1D and 1E.

Welty argues that the endorsement of these propositions would help the schools.

“It would allow us to go forward with the plan we have in place to offer courses for students that are here,” he said.

Courses would not be added back in, he said, but it would prevent further cuts.

Marty Hittelman with the California Federation of Teachers, a group that represents K-12 teachers, is concerned that Prop. 1A puts an artificial cap on spending and would actually mean more cuts for students.

“The cap is based on what we are currently spending and then we add onto it the consumer price index and the population growth,” Hittelman said. “But that doesn’t account for the student growth; it will cut the number of students that are able to attend the schools.”

It is important to understand that these propositions are constitutional amendments.

Sunshine calls Prop. 1A a “complicated measure that is going to be placed into the text of the state constitution.”

Whether voters want to endorse the propositions or not, Welty stressed the importance of students getting out to vote.

“If these initiatives fail it could have disastrous consequences for students,” Welty said.

“I think it is in their best interest to learn something about the initiatives and to vote.”

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