University plans additional reductions in response to Governor’s vetoes
In light of continued unresolved fiscal issues, Governor Walker announced today a series of vetoes to the state operating and capital budget, which included a $10 million cut to the University of Alaska’s operating budget and a veto of the $18 million capital budget reappropriation for the U-Med road project. This reduction, when added to the $15 million reduction from the current year budget by the Legislature, results in a $25 million budget cut for the coming year, the third budget cut in as many years.
“While we are disappointed in today’s news, we remain clear and steadfast in our priorities and will allocate the necessary reductions in a strategic way,” said UA President Jim Johnsen. “By that I mean we will put the long term interests of our students first.”
To meet the $10 million reduction, approximately $8.5 million will be trimmed from areas set to receive a modest increase this year: research, K-12 partnership, workforce development, ANSEP, Title IX compliance, and initiatives focused on development, degree completion and student recruitment/retention. The remaining $1.5 million would come from reducing high level administrative positions at the system and campus levels.
Strategic priorities left intact include $9 million to offset a planned mid-year tuition increase, $10 million for deferred facility maintenance and $3 million for the debt service and operating funds for the UAF engineering building.
Johnsen said the university has been working on budget reduction options for months. “We understand Alaska is facing tough times and we are stepping up to make sure we operate more cost effectively while, at the same time, providing wide access to our high quality programs across the state.” Budget reductions will result in elimination of 579 positions across the UA system – 160 through attrition, 172 through layoffs and 247 through non-renewal of term contracts; the deletion, suspension, or expedited review of 95 degree and certificate programs; no increase in salary for high level administrators; increasing faculty instructional workloads; and voluntary staff furloughs.
“The reductions already taken, and now this additional veto, are not without impacts on our faculty and staff,” Johnsen said. “We are working hard to mitigate those impacts and to keep our people informed and engaged as we get ready for the new academic year.”
“I am confident in the progress we are making through Strategic Pathways and that we will find the needed efficiencies to ensure we continue to serve our students and the state’s higher education needs,” he said.