Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NFA lobbyist Jim Richardson assesses the budget agreement

The day was certainly bittersweet. A statement was made today by the money committees which was certainly better than what we started the session with (36% overall cut in the Executive Budget) by approving a budget that represents “only” a 12.5% overall cut (which is actually more than that for some institutions).

However, other major budget areas of the State did not suffer such cuts, and some are even above the FY 2009 level of approved funding (before cuts) from the General Fund. And we saw our usual 18-19% of the State general Fund drop dramatically. So it is difficult to be too cheerful, as it will take years, and much effort, to overcome the losses suffered in our funding levels, even if revenues recover for the State.

The situation will be very difficult, and will dramatically affect what we do – teach students, do research, and public service. I urge all faculty leaders from senates and NFA to work together with their administrations (and student leaders) to figure out how best to deal with the very trying situation we now face for the next few years, at least. Let’s hope that priorities will be different next session, that revenues recovery dramatically, and that we can start the road back as soon as possible.

Thanks to all NFA members and all faculty and staff for your support and help through this session. However, please note that the session is not over yet. Important bills have to be dealt with, even today, with the hearing on SB 415 at 8 am (PEBP funding bill), and the revenues must be found to fund what the legislature has done with the closing of the budgets. That will not be an easy task.

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