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Trustees Consider 2008-09 Budget; CSU Fees May Be Going Up


California State University trustees have tentatively approved a budget for next year that could mean higher student fees.

Trustees haven’t taken a formal vote on fees and won’t until next year. But a budget proposal for 2008-09 approved by the board’s finance committee Tuesday includes the possibility of a fee hike unless the state provides more funding.

The approval came over the objections of Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who is also a trustee. He urged the board, meeting in Long Beach, not to leave the door open for a fee hike.

“It’s time for trustees and this institution to take a different tack, instead of assuming that student fees will continue to be increased,” he said.

Leaders of the state’s other public university system, the University of California, were scheduled to take a similar step Wednesday with consideration of a budget request that includes a potential fee hike unless there is extra funding.

Garamendi, who is also a member of the UC governing board, is proposing capping fees there, too. As at CSU, UC leaders are not expected to formally vote on fees until next year.

University administrators will get a clearer picture of the funding outlook in January, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger presents his budget to legislators.

However, early forecasts are that the state is facing a deficit of at least $6 billion.

CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said Tuesday that CSU’s proposed budget is the responsible way to go.

“I only think it’s fair for students to get early warning,” he said.

The committee, whose actions were scheduled to go before the full board for ratification Wednesday, approved a proposed budget of about $4.7 billion. Last year’s budget was $4.47 billion.

The request includes $322.7 million more than last year, as laid out in a long-term agreement reached earlier with the governor. In addition, CSU is asking for $155.2 million above the agreed-on figure to pay for enrollment growth and other priorities.

The budget includes $73 million that could come out of extra state funding or through raising student fees about 10 percent.

Trustees said they will decide on fees no later than the March board meeting.

CSU, the nation’s largest four-year system with 450,000 students, now charges undergraduates about $3,400 a year.

An increase would be highly unpopular since CSU fees have gone up steadily in recent years.

CSU officials note their fees are still among the lowest in the nation.

However, administrators have come under fire for their spending priorities.

A state audit released last week criticized pay and perks given to executives of the 23-campus system, and urged the system’s trustees to change their procedures and make future compensation decisions public.

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