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President talks about budget

December 04, 2009 12:00AM

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President Steve Scott shares budget details at a campus forum.

P SU P

"
The last thing we will consider is layoffs and furloughs. "
~ PSU President Steve Scott
resident Steve Scott spoke to university employees Thursday about the most recent budget cuts to come down from the state. The president said the budget reduction announced by Gov. Mark Parkinson on Nov. 23 amounts to just over $91,000 for Pittsburg State.

"It could have been worse," Scott said, "but that's a lot of money."

The president noted that last week's $91,000 cut comes on top of cuts earlier this year of more than $4.5 million. The $4.5 million in cuts, combined with increasing costs, meant the university was forced to close a $5.1 million gap in funding.

President Scott said provisions in the federal stimulus bill requiring states to keep funding for higher education at or above 2006 levels in order to receive stimulus money may have prevented even deeper cuts.

"The authors of the stimulus bill did us a great service," Scott said.

The president outlined the steps the university has already taken to close the funding gap. Those included reducing salary and wage budgets by  $1.2 million, reducing OOE budgets by $.9 million, increasing tuition revenue by $1.5 million and using $1.5 million in one-time reserves.

The president said a set of principles has guided the decisions about how to absorb the cuts. The retention of people, he said, was one of those principles.

"The last thing we will consider is layoffs and furloughs," President Scott said.

The president said at the present time the university doesn't have a campuswide furlough policy, which is one indication of how reluctant administrators are to use furloughs. He warned, however, that a deterioration of state revenues in the coming months and more severe cuts in higher education funding could change things.

"If this unwinds on the budget side, we may have to put together a task force (to develop a campuswide furlough policy.)"

In the months ahead, the president said, everyone on campus can do things to help. He urged employees to help with attracting students to the university, help students be successful, reduce operational costs, use electronic media, conserve utilities, look for new opportunities, and communicate ideas to their supervisor.

The president said the campus has made great progress this year in dealing with the budget reductions.

"We've done a lot of good things," Scott said. "We have slowed our spending and reduced our costs."

Looking ahead, the president said he thought additional cuts were a real possibility. He also noted that there will be added costs in FY 2011, including a 12.5 percent increase in group health insurance, the third year of the classified pay plan and funding faculty promotions. An even bigger worry, he said, was FY 2012, when federal stimulus dollars run out.

While the budget news is not cheerful, President Scott said he believed it was important to share factual information with the entire campus and to enlist everyone's help in finding creative solutions.

"You've got worries. We've all got worries," Scott said. "The goal is to be open about what we know."

Video of the budget forum

©2009 Pittsburg State University