Budget cuts may hurt salaries

Dear Rattlers,

As you may know, the Florida Legislature is considering significant budget cuts to public higher education in the new fiscal year that starts on July 1, 2009.  In anticipation of that, Florida A&M University  is in the process of identifying wide-ranging budget reduction recommendations that will be considered over the next month.  

As of today, the House and Senate budgets are far apart in their overall support for FAMU and public higher education in general.  In addition to budget cuts, the House proposes to mandate a pay cut to state employees’ salaries, including those at FAMU. The Senate has excluded the state university system from any pay cuts.  Since most of our operating budget is comprised of payroll expenses, we believe this is a double hit for FAMU. 

The current House budget includes a 22 percent cut in general revenue to state universities ($22.7M for FAMU), while the Senate budget proposes a 6.7 percent general revenue reduction ($6.9M for FAMU).  While we would rather not have any additional cuts

in light of the three budget reductions imposed between July 2007 and January 2009, given the current economic environment we favor the Senate budget.

Please call or email the following members of the Florida House of Representatives as soon as possible:

Speaker Larry Cretul (R-Ocala)
  Email: larry.cretul@myfloridahouse.gov

Rep. Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park)
  Chair, House Select Policy Council on Strategic & Economic Planning
  (Speaker designate 2011-12)
  Email: dean.cannon@myfloridahouse.gov

Key messages to consider:

Florida must invest in higher education to continue to develop the talent necessary to attract high-skill, high-wage jobs to the state.

State Universities cannot sustain additional cuts.

Protect our universities; adopt the Senate budget position with respect to higher education.

As time is of the essence, if you can call or email in the next day or so it would be most appreciated.

Tola Thompson is FAMU’s director of governmental relations. He can be reached at public.relations@famu.edu.