Projected budget looks bleak

The Board of Trustees were disappointed Thursday when they were told Florida A&M University would lose $3.6 million this spring due to the state’s economic downturn.

“There is a projected general revenue shortfall of $6 billion,” said FAMU’s Chief Financial Officer Teresa Hardee as she explained the state’s financial forecast.

Hardee said according to the state’s Board of Governors, 15 percent of the budget would be stripped from each of the 11 public universities in Florida in the last quarter of the school year as a precautionary action. 

Florida Director of the Office of Policy and Budget Jerry McDaniel wrote a letter to agency leaders further explaining the reasons behind holding the money.

“This precautionary action will allow us to continue managing cash flow effectively and monitor the revenue collections into the upcoming months,” McDaniel wrote. “We truly appreciate the efforts that the state agencies have made to manage within the reduced resources throughout the fiscal year.”       

Although Gov. Charlie Crist is recommending no additional cuts to the state university system-operating budget, Trustees are expecting to hear from the governor and state legislatures on additional cuts taken from the 2009-2010-school budget.                

“Additional budget reductions will need to be made for 2009-2010, unless other revenue streams and/or federal stimulus funds are identified,” Hardee said.

According to the Governor’s budget recommendations, there could be a base tuition increase of 5 percent and a 10 percent tuition differential could be implemented if the legislation is passed.        

Students realize that cuts are inevitable but have their own cost saving suggestions for the university.       

“The university should focus on cutting minor things that will lead to bigger savings, such as cutting the lights off in classrooms or turning off computers when they are not in use,” said Andy St. Hilaire, 22, a senior political science student from Miami.        

Hilaire, a local radio personality, said another way to save could be to eliminate annual activities.