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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ABOR demands $5M cut from UA

The UA’s proposed budget reduction of 2.75 percent might appear like a sliver cut by the finest scalpel, but when it means more than $5 million must be cut — and soon — it feels more like a swing from an axe.

At the beginning of March, the Arizona Board of Regents told the UA to make a one-time cut from its budget by the beginning of the upcoming fiscal year.

Although the general terms of the directive are still being worked out, it looks as if there will need to be about a $5.26 million reduction in general fund salaries.

Jennifer Grentz, assistant executive director for public affairs for ABOR, noted that planning how the universities will proceed will start Tuesday and conclude at a special board meeting at the end of the month.

Once the final wording of the directive is released, it will be clear whether ABOR wants Arizona schools to give the money from the 2.75 percent reduction in the general salary budget back to the state or just move it to a different section of school expenditures.

As of yet, there are no definite plans of how to achieve this reduction.

“”We know the number, we just don’t know the specifics as of yet,”” said Johnny Cruz, UA media relations director and assistant vice president of communications. “”We don’t know how we are going to get there yet.””

An official March 12 memorandum from President Robert Shelton’s office to faculty and staff stated, “”Given the complex nature of UA’s salary sources, we will need some time to determine the full impact of this directive.””

The road to a $5 million spending reduction is causing many people to worry.

In the same March memo, Shelton noted he personally “”did not want the campus community to misinterpret this directive and assume that there would be across-the-board salary reductions.””

Cruz noted that the UA is already doing more with less, seeing increased enrollment coupled with staff cut-backs in the face of budget reductions.

“”As far as (how the cut) relates to salary savings, there’s always vacancy savings, unfilled positions, retirements … all of those things we know achieve salary savings,”” he said. “”And we’ve done those already this year. What we’ll have to do over and above that is what we don’t know.””

The UA will not fill vacant positions left by retirees and others who have left the university. According to Cruz, that will only cover about half of the $5 million that needs to be cut. The plan to cut the remainder is still undecided.

All of this budget wrangling comes at the same time as the final push for Proposition 100, an Arizona ballot initiative to add a one-cent sales tax in Arizona. Without its passage, the alternative budget will be put into place for the state, permanently cutting more than $107 million from Arizona higher education and $41 million from the UA specifically.

Cruz noted that, although they both deal with budget, the UA is treating the ABOR directive and the proposition vote independently.

“”Those two things are separate,”” he said. “”They still result in cuts, but they are separate issues.””

The UA presentation to ABOR about balancing the budget cut will, however, model a budget without the passage of Proposition 100, according to Cruz.

“”The question is how much more do we have to do and how,”” Cruz said about all the recent budget hits to the UA. “”There will certainly be an impact, but the question is to what degree and how many people will be affected.””

 

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