By Stephanie Schwartz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday September 4, 2002
Specifics for UA cuts are still in planning, but Hull's plan to trim $180 million from the state budget raises concerns
Although administrators are unsure exactly what percentage of UA's budget would be given back to the state if Gov. Jane Hull goes forward with the spending cuts she announced Thursday ö 10 percent for state agencies ö they are taking her warnings seriously.
"Ten percent seems unlikely," UA President Peter Likins said. "But some kind of recession, or the state taking money back, seems probable."
The Arizona State Legislature cut UA's budget by $16.6 million in 2001-2002, not including pay raises that totaled $3.7 million less than previously approved.
"We are not taking any immediate action," Likins said. "But we're planning the budget with (the governor's) concerns in mind."
There are no specifics of what exactly would be cut, but more jobs and programs are in jeopardy, said Janet Bingham, vice president for university advancement.
More clarity will be seen each month as the state and administrators wait to see if the economy improves.
UA is not responding to Hull's recent announcements ÷ in which she said that the state budget deficit was worse than expected ÷ by telling deans to make cuts, but instead, giving a heads up, Likins said.
"We feel we have cut to the bone already," Bingham said. "It's our worst fears coming true."
The state's budget for this fiscal year is $6.2 billion and Hull forsees a $400 million deficit.
The state cut $930 million in spending last year to balance the budget in the midst of an economic slowdown that shrunk state revenues.
The cuts Hull told her agency directors to prepare for last Thursday should reduce the deficit by $150 to $180 million.
"It's really disappointing because the universities have already been really impacted by budget cuts," said Randy Richardson, vice president for undergraduate education.
Between layoffs and contracts not renewed, 383 UA employees lost their jobs in 2001-2002 and at the beginning of this academic year.
There has been talk of the state universities taking a five percent budget cut, said Greg Fahey, associate vice president for university advancement.
No formal work is being done with the budget cuts, and it is possible nothing will happen until winter or spring, Fahey said.
UA is at standstill right now waiting for the Arizona Board of Regents to meet Sep. 26 and Sept. 27 at Arizona State University.
"At this point, the Board of Regents could direct us to hold money or just to be cautious," Fahey said. "It could be a while before this is settled."
The UA is still struggling with the budget after last year's cuts, Likins said.
Beyond general budget cuts and smaller-than-expected pay raises, UA lost about $26 million in funds for building upkeep in 2000-2001.
Originally 115 courses were cut, some of which have now been restored.
Arizona International College, a public college dedicated toward liberal arts, will close in 2006, by vote of Arizona Board of Regents and on Likins' recommendation.
Likins said UA could not afford the college because of budget cuts.
Hull plans on calling the Legislature into special session to deal with the state budget crisis in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, Bingham said they are making no decisions and hoping the situation and the economy will improve.
"The president has made decisions that will ensure excellence of the university," she said. "Everything we do will ensure quality excellence in our programs."
If cuts need to be made across campus, the UA finance committee, along with President Likins, deans and other campus groups will be a part of the decision process of what will be cut.