President Ammons address potential cutbacks and budget problems

President James Ammons gave his State of the University Address Monday at the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Teaching Gymnasium. His 15-minute speech consisted of a laundry list of potential cutbacks, budget problems a proposed 10-15 percent cut. “I have grave concerns,” said Ammons, “not just for Florida A&M, but for the entire Florida economy.”According to Ammons, the Florida legislature approved a $577 million decrease in public school funding across the state, which affects FAMU to the tune $27 million in losses.Ammons also mentioned the possibility of more budget cuts down the line in every division and said this would mean a loss of $8.9 million for a 10 percent cut and $13.4 million loss if the budget is cut by 15 percent. “We cannot continue to operate in the same way,” Ammons said. “Layoffs are a very real concern.”FAMU student Brian Hill echoed Ammons’ concerns about the budget cuts. “We have renovations going on now with even more planned, and financial aid difficulties every year,” said Hill, 19, a second-year electrical engineering major from Atlanta. “If anything, a financial cut would be more like a financial gash.”Ammons also touched on the prior stimulus funds allocated to the university. He added that $8 million in stimulus revenue would only be given to the university through the 2010-2011 school year. This is money that would have to be made through FAMU Foundation donations. So far, according to Ammons’ PowerPoint presentation, the foundation has yet to clear the $8 million contribution mark it is attempting to reach. As an added complication, less than one percent of the funds raised in previous years has been usable in an unrestricted fashion; meaning the rest of the funds- peaking at $4.9 million in 2006-2007- were already allocated for scholarships and general operating procedures.Ammons, however,remains optimistic.“Despite the current financial spiral, this is a time for courage. We must get involved with the legislature and show them we are a valuable element of both the community and the nation,” Ammons said. “What we do over the next 10 years will determine if FAMU shall continue to exist.” The Board of Trustees will hold a budget workshop and a board assessment meeting Thursday and Friday.