BILL ANALYSIS SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION Gloria Romero, Chair 2009-2010 Regular Session BILL NO: AB 24 AUTHOR: Block AMENDED: July 1, 2009 FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: July 8, 2009 URGENCY: No CONSULTANT:Beth Graybill SUBJECT : California State University SUMMARY: This bill: 1) requires the Chancellor of the California State University to complete and submit to the Trustees a study about the feasibility of establishing a new university campus at Chula Vista, and 2) requires the university to permit students to take examinations at times that do not violate the student's religious creed. BACKGROUND Existing law : 1) Establishes the California State University (CSU) administered by the Board of Trustees, and provides that the Trustees shall have the full power over the construction and development of any CSU campus and any buildings or other facilities or improvements with CSU. 2) Declares the intent of the Legislature that sites for new institutions or branches of the University of California (UC) and the CSU shall not be authorized or acquired unless recommended by the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC). Existing law further requires CPEC to advise the Legislature and the Governor regarding the need for, and location of, new institutions and campuses of public higher education. 3) Requires the CSU, in administering any test or examination, to permit any student who is eligible to undergo the test or examination to do so, without penalty, at a time when that activity would not violate the student's religious creed. Existing law specifies AB 24 Page 2 that the requirement does not apply if administering an alternative date for the test would impose an undue hardship on the institution. ANALYSIS This bill : 1) Requires the Chancellor of the CSU to conduct a study regarding the feasibility of establishing a satellite program and ultimately, an independent CSU campus at Chula Vista, and specifies the study should include specified elements such as enrollment projections, regional workforce needs and prospective economic impact and job creation in the region, potential alleviation of overcrowding and traffic at San Diego State University, environmental impact, and support and capital outlay projections. 2) Requires the Chancellor to submit the study to the Trustees within 18 months of the effective date of this bill (June 2011). 3) Removes the hardship exemption concerning alternative testing times, thereby requiring CSU campuses to permit a student to take a test at a time when it would not violate the student's religious creed. STAFF COMMENTS 1) Existing process . Existing law requires CPEC to advise the Legislature and the Governor regarding the need for, and location of, new institutions and campuses of public higher education as a means of carrying out their responsibility to ensure the effective utilization of public postsecondary education resources. Under the existing process, institutions considering the establishment of a new educational center file a notice of intent with CPEC, followed by the submission of a formal proposal that provides a comprehensive feasibility analysis of the proposed facility. This bill requires the Chancellor to submit a feasibility study to the Trustees, but does not appear to require the Trustees to take any action on the study. Further, staff recommends the bill be amended to specify that upon adoption of a formal resolution to propose a new campus or off campus center at Chula Vista, the Trustees AB 24 Page 3 will submit a formal proposal to CPEC for review, pursuant to Education Code Section 66904. 2) Enrollment and access . According to the author's office, the CSU system does not have the capacity to accommodate the growing demand for students seeking a four-year college degree. The author's office notes that population growth in the southern San Diego region is increasing enrollment demand for San Diego State University (SDSU) and further notes that SDSU turned away 68.8% of the 50,000 first-time freshmen who applied for the fall 2008 semester. CSU indicates that, all qualified students from the San Diego area were offered admission to SDSU in 2008. As a result of the state's current budget crisis, the CSU expects to reduce overall systemwide enrollment by approximately 40,000 students in 2009-10, further reducing the number of students who will be able to enroll at SDSU. Notwithstanding the merits of planning for better times or creating opportunities for economic development, the projections for continued budget stress for both the state and CSU over the next few years suggest that the feasibility study required by this bill could be outdated by the time the state or CSU is in a position to secure funding for the proposed new campus. 3) Fiscal impact . According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis, this bill has a one-time cost of around $600,000 for the feasibility study, which would include physical, and academic planning and environmental and traffic studies. The current version of this bill deletes a provision that would have required this feasibility study to be funded from private sources, thereby requiring CSU to absorb the cost of the study, potentially further impacting resources available to serve students. In the long run, this bill could result in unknown but significant General Fund cost pressure for start up and ongoing operations. Given that all Proposition 1D higher education facilities funds have been apportioned it is not clear how initial capital outlay may be funded. SB 271 (Ducheny), which proposed the Higher Education Bond Act for 2010, was passed by this Committee on a 7-0 vote and has been held under submission in Senate Appropriations. AB 24 Page 4 4) Testing accommodation . According to the author's office, current law makes it too easy for professors to claim "undue hardship" and deny student requests for alternative testing times. Yet, by removing the provision, this bill will have the effect of requiring CSU campuses to accommodate any and all religious creed requests for alternative testing times, regardless of the reasonableness of the request and could conceivably require faculty to permit multiple alternative testing times for different students. Rather than deleting the hardship provision altogether, would it make sense instead to define what constitutes undue hardship? SUPPORT Allied Gardens Community Council American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO BIOCOM California Communities United Institute California State Employees Association Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce City of Chula Vista College Area Community council College View Estates Association Council of Philippine American Organizations County of San Diego Crossroads II Filipino American Community Empowerment Letters from individuals Mexican American Business and Professional Association National City chamber of Commerce National Federation of Filipino American Associations , Region X Rolando Community Council San Diego Councilmember Marti Emerald South Bay Expressway Southwestern Community College District OPPOSITION None received.