Responses to Chancellor's Communication-February 6, 2001

Here are the most frequently asked questions and my responses:

1. Can you give more information about the housing survey? Who will be surveyed?

In an effort to improve employee recruitment and retention, the CSU is distributing a survey to gather information from employees about housing issues. This survey will collect data about issues that employees might have encountered with housing when joining the CSU or moving to another campus within the system. Also, it will assess the level of interest in various housing assistance programs that the CSU might develop.

We are asking all full-time, regular employees hired since January 1, 1997 to access and complete this Web-based survey. As of February 16th, we will have sent messages to all survey recipients. We are requesting responses by February 28th.

The information that we gather from this survey, as well as additional input from campuses, will be used to determine what sort of housing assistance programs would best fill the needs of our faculty and staff. Your participation is very important - even if housing is not, or was not, an issue affecting your decision to join the CSU. The information that you provide in response is strictly confidential and individual responses will not be made public.

2. Can you explain the budget process in Sacramento? How does the CSU go about requesting additional funds for its budget?

The budget process in Sacramento begins with the Governor's budget submission to the legislature in January. The Legislative Analyst's Office then prepares an analysis of the governor's January budget submission for the legislature. Next, the Assembly and Senate committees and subcommittees schedule hearings on the various pieces of the governor's budget request and any unresolved issues identified by the Legislative Analyst. Members of the legislature also are provided an opportunity during committee and subcommittee hearings to offer their own requests for budget consideration.

In May, the governor submits a revised budget request based on the April forecast of state revenues (known as the "May Revision" or "May Revise"). Following completion of hearings and votes in each chamber, the legislature passes a budget bill for the governor's signature. The governor is set to approve the budget by July 1 of each year.

The CSU becomes involved in the state budget process in October -- three months prior to the governor's January budget submission -- when the Board of Trustees approves a budget plan for the fiscal year. The chancellor is authorized to make changes to the trustees' budget based on campus enrollment information from fall census data and any specific request from the Department of Finance in preparation of the governor's budget request.

The governor develops the CSU portion of the state budget request on the basis of the higher education partnership agreement for the CSU and the University of California. This agreement specifies a base level of funding increase for enrollment growth, CSU operating support, long-term budget need and state mandatory costs for annuitants' dental benefits and lease bond payments for the fiscal year. The governor also considers any additional funding requests in the trustees' budget above the budget parameters established by the partnership agreement.

After the governor's budget is submitted to the legislature, the chancellor is asked to present the trustees' budget at Senate and Assembly overview hearings. The CSU also is asked to respond to specific budget items identified in the Legislative Analyst's analysis of the governor's budget, as well as defend the governor's and trustees' budget proposals at committee and subcommittee hearings.

In addition, CSU is requested to submit any budget items that require consideration for the governor's May budget revision. In making such a request, the CSU works in consultation with its Board of Trustees to develop a list of priorities for additional funding. Those priorities are conveyed in a formal letter to the director of the Department of Finance. As the budget advances through the subcommittee process, these priorities are shared with the members of the budget committees in each house, and with the appropriate legislative and administration staff.

Prior to passage of the trustees' budget plan in October, the chancellor develops a systemwide budget strategy based on the projection of CSU revenue increase from the higher education partnership and budget issues and concerns raised by CSU constituency groups. This process begins with the May meeting of the System Budget Advisory Committee and continues through the September meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Thus, the state budget process for the CSU essentially has a year-round timeframe that begins in May and concludes in July of the following year.

3. How will the energy crisis affect the CSU's budget?

Currently the CSU is experiencing a greater impact from the rise in natural gas prices than from the electricity crisis. In its request to the Finance Department for a budgetary adjustment (see Question # 2 for a description of this process), the CSU is requesting a total of $41.1 million to compensate for a shortfall in budgeted costs in relation to actual costs for natural gas. The $41.1 million is broken down into $19.8 million to cover unanticipated natural gas costs for the current (2000/01) year and $21.3 million to recognize increased natural gas prices in 2001/02.

On the electrical front, the CSU is continuing to receive benefits from its agreement with Enron Energy Services at this time. Through this agreement, our universities receive a 5 percent discount on the frozen tariff rates.

For a more detailed description of the CSU's response to the energy crisis and its conservation efforts, please see http://www.calstate.edu/PA/News/EnergyConservProg.shtml

4. Why did the CSU reject the fact-finding report in the CFA negotiations?

CSU officials disagreed strongly with the recommendations of the majority opinion of the fact-finding report on the grounds that it offered no compromise on disputed issues, in some cases was based on inaccurate assumptions and factual errors, and included recommendations neither the CSU nor CFA requested.

The CSU first disagreed with the report on its recommendation to discontinue merit pay. The current merit pay program was agreed to by the CFA and is in the current contract. The agreed-upon budget conditions - specifically, a six percent salary pool increase - were met, so a recommendation to discontinue the merit pay program was inappropriate.

Second, the report questioned the concept of merit pay, citing concerns about not having predetermined and measurable evaluation criteria. There was no evidence at the fact-finding hearing to support this claim, and the faculty contract clearly states the criteria for evaluation, with a heavy focus on teaching, which was recommended by the CSU systemwide Academic Senate.

Third, the report suggested that faculty may not be fully aware of the merit pay program. However, the program is widely and repeatedly publicized at the campuses, and about 85 percent of full-time faculty apply for the award annually.

The report included other issues, such was the rounding of salaries to the nearest $100, which neither the CFA nor the CSU considered a relevant issue, and the distribution of salary savings from faculty turnover, which the CSU relies upon for faculty replacement costs.

5. How is the CSU responding to concerns about faculty workload?

The CSU administration, Academic Senate and CFA currently have a task force working cooperatively to study the workload issue. The first step will be to conduct a survey this spring similar to the one previously conducted in 1990. Plans for addressing the issues identified can then be developed from the information gathered. Certain proposed solutions, of course, would be subject to the collective bargaining process.

6. Why does the CSU offer fee waivers for dependents of faculty and not for dependents of staff?

I posted a response to this question in October, but it continues to be a popular question, so I will post this answer again: The fee waiver for faculty was negotiated as a part of collective bargaining in 1993. All staff unions have expressed strong interest in the issue of a staff fee waiver in their respective contracts. We are examining the cost analysis and will continue to discuss this issue with the representative groups.


last updated February 20, 2001