Budgets cuts lower than projected

In February, President James Ammons projected budgets cuts would be 10 to 15 percent, $26 million. They are now projected to be only two to three percent, approximately $1.6 million.

During the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, Ammons said the state legislature has invested in the state’s university system. The legislature has submitted the budget for the entire university system to the board of governors. Ammons said the BOG now has to distribute each university its appropriations and allocations.

Despite fiscal restraints and statewide budget shortfalls, Ammons said the state legislature has invested in the state’s university system. He said the board previously anticipated a budget cut of 10 to 15 percent. Ammons also said the draft of the budget cuts, sent by the office of the chancellor, are much smaller than expected.

“However, when we look at that draft budget we see that includes non-recurring general revenue, as well as increased lottery funds,” Ammons said, “Based on what we know from the draft, the budget cuts are far less severe than what we thought they would be.”

Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris said the board gave an overview of the process the university has gone through to make certain that everyone understands what is going on.

She said the economy of the state would have a direct impact on the budget allocations.

Hughes-Harris also said there’s not much they can do definitively until the legislature finalizes its budget.

At one point, the cuts were expected to be drastic, but Hughes-Harris said they’re getting hints that maybe they won’t be.

“If they cut big, we’re ready to cut big,” Hughes-Harris said, “If they cut low we won’t have to cut too big.”

Hughes-Harris went on to say they it’s unknown what will be pinpointed. The university hasn’t decided what courses or faculty will be cut. She did say they have scenarios that are very flexible right now.

Teresa Hardee, Vice President and CFO, said the cuts would probably be less than three percent, which is down from the previously expected 15 percent. She said not only did the legislature increase tuition, but they also upped the lottery money and awarded FAMU non-recurring funds.

“I think the main thing we need to do is thank the legislature for making certain that the university system, and our K-12 system, have the ability to educate are students in quality way,” Ammons said.

Additionally, Ammons said the legislature included an eight percent across-the-board tuition increase, and a seven percent differential tuition increase for a maximum of 15 percent. He also said there is an appropriation for the new Florida initiative that was proposed by Chancellor Frank Brogan. Ammons said those funds that have been included in the budget, about $10 million, is non-recurring.

Ammons said supporters of education, not just FAMU, have worked to minimize the negative impact of the cuts on the university.

Although Ammons said the news is much better than expected, the funds will only be used for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. He also said the stimulus money the university received will end at the closing of the next fiscal year. Once the university officials get all of the details on how the new budget will impact FAMU, Ammons said they will allocate the recurring and non-recurring funds. He added that the chair will get with the board and schedule the next meeting where they will consider the proposed 2010-2011 budget.