Following the announcement in June of worse-than-predicted state revenue projections, the Office of State Planning and Budget (OSPB) on Tuesday released general fund budget reductions by state agency. The OSPB proposes an additional cumulative reduction in higher education funding of $82.1 million from this and next year’s appropriations.
In order to accomplish the higher education reduction, Gov. Bill Ritter has announced that he will seek a waiver to the requirement that higher education funding remain at 2005-06 levels for the state to maintain eligibility for one-time federal stimulus dollars.
However, David Skaggs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, has said that if a waiver is granted, he intends to backfill the additional loss with stimulus money that has yet to be allocated.
"That's certainly what everyone is intending," Skaggs was quoted in the July 9 edition of Education News Colorado, which also quoted Skaggs saying that he is optimistic that the waiver will be granted and that the federal Department of Education will act quickly on the request.
Vice President for Administration and Finance Natalie Lutes estimates that Metro State’s share of the $82.1 million cut would be between $5 million and $6 million, depending on how the reductions are distributed within higher education.
“This reduction scenario only applies if Colorado is granted a waiver from the requirements in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” Lutes adds.
Metro State already took a nearly $10 million base reduction to its operating budget that was backfilled by stimulus dollars. A further cut would mean the College will face an even larger permanent reduction in its operating budget in two years. President Stephen Jordan has previously announced his intention to use the one-time stimulus dollars to find technology that can help Metro State “right-size.” He also has announced he is evaluating capping enrollment, and that there will be reductions and realignments in academic and nonacademic programs. (To read more go to http://www.mscd.edu/~collcom/artman/publish/townhall_twv6050709.shtml.)
“Vice President Lutes and the other CFOs will be working with the Department of Higher Education over the next month to have answers,” Jordan says. “We will keep the College community apprised as the situation develops.”
Other budget news
Gov. Ritter also announced that the freeze on state employee pay increases will continue through the 2010-11 fiscal year and that there could be more furlough days than the four included in this year’s budget. The freeze in pay applies to higher education employees, but the furlough days do not.
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