Budget Update: 5% State Budget Cuts for Next Fiscal Year
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:
I promised to keep you informed as we cope with inevitable budget cuts for fiscal 2009-2010. We’re still in a stronger position than most universities, but the cuts that we are facing will be painful.
The state budget remains in flux. This week, Governor Perdue released her budget. President Bowles has praised the proposal’s support of enrollment growth and need-based financial aid. He also has pledged to continue advocating for holding next fiscal year’s state budget cuts to the campuses to 5 percent because of our vital role in preparing the North Carolina workforce. The president also is pushing for full flexibility in how we manage those cuts to protect the academic core.
We support the president’s positions as the General Assembly prepares for the next steps in the state budget debate. We’re hopeful that cuts to the UNC system ultimately will be minimized. But even so, we already know that what we at Carolina do – and how we do it – will be significantly affected.
Given the state’s estimated $3.4 billion budget shortfall, it’s not in the University’s best interest to delay the tough decisions required in making cuts for next fiscal year. The longer we wait to enact inevitable cuts, the deeper the cuts likely would be. Earlier today, I instructed vice chancellors, deans, associate provosts, center and institute directors, and the director of the Area Health and Education Centers Program to make cuts for programs, operations and staffing equivalent to a 5 percent recurring state budget reduction to coincide with the start of the new fiscal year. Units must move forward now to carry out plans for a July 1 effective date. Regrettably, we know this means eliminating some positions of employees subject to and exempt from the State Personnel Act (SPA and EPA non-faculty).
Regarding faculty, I want to reiterate that we don’t foresee circumstances that would lead to the elimination of tenured faculty, the canceling of fixed-term contracts in the middle of their terms, or alteration of tenure decisions based on budget concerns. And we have no plans to discharge tenure-track faculty because of the economy.
This fiscal year, all UNC campuses have made one-time budget reductions that total 7 percent of state appropriations – roughly $36 million at Carolina. All along, we’ve asked the vice chancellors and deans to do everything possible to reduce expenses before eliminating positions and laying off or terminating employees. I affirm that position today. But some units will find that job cuts are unavoidable because we face at least a 5 percent recurring state budget reduction that would total nearly $29 million.
Please understand that the timing reflects how long it will take managers and our human resources staff to work through state and University policies – which provide benefits to our affected employees – so the University can achieve cost savings beginning July 1.
Last month, I authorized Brenda Malone, associate vice chancellor for human resources, to create the Employee Assistance Fund to enhance the outplacement services we provide for people who have been laid off. We expect those services to be in place soon.
Many of you have advocated for temporary furloughs, which we still support if the General Assembly grants the UNC system that authority. But that decision isn’t likely to come soon, and the resulting short-term savings wouldn’t be sufficient to cover the University’s state budget shortfall. People also ask why we can’t use other funding sources since state dollars represent less than a quarter of our total budget. Those other funds – federal research grants for faculty research, tuition and fees, and private gifts, which generate endowment income – are restricted in how they can be used. Our endowment earnings, like those at other universities, have been negatively affected by the global economic downturn and are also a factor in our budget planning at the unit and campus levels.
When we posted redacted state budget cut scenarios on the Carolina Budget Information Web page, we said these were strictly for planning purposes and didn’t reflect actual decisions. That’s still true. Please don’t assume that those scenarios are the basis for the next steps that I’ve announced today. Our vice chancellors and deans have continued to refine – or make wholesale changes – to those original scenarios. They have and will continue to communicate within the units about what their plans mean for schools and departments.
I understand the pain that this information will bring to people who have devoted themselves to this University, and I am sorry that we have to take this step. I ask for your support and patience as we navigate this economy, and I promise to keep you informed. I also encourage you to continue sharing any creative cost-cutting suggestions via e-mail at email@example.com.