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  



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               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  



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               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.  



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           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.