Not-so-happy Holidays? Layoffs Appear Imminent

CSUDH is part of the 23 campuses in the CSU that need to adjust their budgets due to reduced funds. Photo by Carlos Martinez.

By Brenda Fernanda Verano, News Editor

Since learning in July that its share of the $299 million cut to the California State University’s 2020-21 budget was nearly $7.5 million, and that one-time mandatory university costs swelled that number to nearly $10 million California State University Dominguez Hills has slashed nearly $7 million from its baseline budget.

Vacant positions were examined to determine which ones could be eliminated. Travel budgets were reduced. There were probably many fewer boxes of pens ordered.

But now the painful work begins. About $3.5 million of the original shortfall needs allocation after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a revised budget on June 30 that reduced CSU funds by $299 million. Those cuts were divided up among the 23 CSU campuses, and CSUDHs’ portion was approximately $7.5 million. 

About halfway through the presentation, however, Robinson replied to a question left in the chat room about whether reductions to CSUDH’s budget in light of that deficit meant layoffs. 

“We have started exploring lack of work layoffs,” Robinson said.

In a previous EEP information session on Sept. 30 held by the Department of Human Services (HR), Robinson presented a projected deficit of nearly $4.6 million to the university’s base, or permanent, budget.

According to the same presentation, the university had a starting deficit of  $9,899,643, when the Stoplight Program helped allocated approximately $5 million, which left an adjusted base deficit of $4.5 million.

The university had already dealt with about half of its original deficit which was $9,899,643, through a Stoplight Program which helped allocated approximately $5 million. The program  went through all vacant job positions and decided which ones could be eliminated and left an adjusted base deficit of $4.5 million. 

As a last resort, many expected that the Early Exit Program (EEP), the universities university’s latest permanent base reduction strategy, would help close the gap on the budget deficit and therefore CSUDH diverted from layoffs, but the program did not reach the success it was expected. Only a total of 9 nine out of 400 staff and faculty eligible to take this program signed up, which only helped to save about $700K.

Today, exactly a month after the EEP application period closed, both permanent base reduction strategies have already been implemented and CSUDH still has a projected deficit on its base budget, but it is not all bad news. 

According to a “1st Quarter Budget Update” on Oct. 21 through Zoom the university’s deficit has decreased. The $4.6 million deficit is now at $3.5 million. 

The Oct. 21 Powerpoint presentation also said that at this point in time,”it will be up to each division to identify the remaining shortfall.” Some strategies for consideration are to revisit critical positions on the spotlight chart, reduce their operating expense or “remove students or temp help that are base budgeted.”

The month of November is an important month when it comes to the university’s future budget. This month, the next board of trustees meeting will result in a preliminary budget for the year 2021-2022. The CSU Board of Trustees discusses any budget request from the university for additional funding, which CSUDH is in need of. The request must outline the reasons for increased allocation which can include things like graduation initiatives, deferred maintenance or enrollment costs. This request is then submitted to the governor.

The fact that CSUDH continues to be an underfunded campus contributes to the budget deficit.  Although California State University Dominguez Hills gets a higher monetary budget allocation in the 2020-2021 fiscal year of approximately $103.3 million, in comparison to the 2011-2012 fiscal year that allocated $59.8 million to CSUDH, the university is still getting almost the same percentage of the whole CSU budget. In almost 10 years the university’s budget allocation has only gone up from 2.7% of the CSU’s budget to 2.8%, only a 0.1% increase.