Provost’s Update on Budget Cuts
I was finalizing this update when the Orlando Sentinel printed a front-page story titled “Florida faces worst budget woes since 9-11” (Sunday, August 5). The article makes clear the challenges we face.
The report of the August 1, 2007, Revenue Estimating Conference for General Fund Revenue confirmed what had been anticipated for some time–a projected revenue shortfall of $1.1 billion for FY07-08. In anticipation of this 4 percent shortfall, on June 29, 2007, the Governor’s Office called for an immediate 4 percent budget reduction in all state agency budgets, including university budgets. The bimonthly payments from the state were immediately reduced to reflect this reduction.
In response to this mandate, on July 11, 2007, colleges and administrative divisions were asked to reduce their budgets by 4 percent, or approximately $12 million. Given the very real possibility of future revenue shortfalls and in an effort to afford us maximum flexibility should additional budget reductions be mandated, I have also asked that an additional 2 percent ($6 million) of our 2007-08 state allocation be held in escrow awaiting the outcome of the special legislative session scheduled to begin on September 18, 2007.
Since salaries and benefits constitute 80 percent of our budgeted state funds, a hiring freeze has been put in place. The availability of salaries and benefits associated with vacant positions could help us address budgetary shortfalls and help us shield our current employees from the unfortunate impacts of budget cuts.
Finally, even in the wake of significant budget cuts, the educational needs of our students must come first. The impact of removing several million dollars from our budget will be felt, but we must all work to lessen those impacts on our students. In reviewing requests for hiring exceptions, the highest priority is being given to positions that provide instruction or other direct services to our students. We must focus our resources in these areas. To that end, I will be asking the academic deans to confine 2008 summer session budgets to instructional activities that serve the most students. There will also be minimum enrollment requirements for all summer session courses.
I thank you in advance for all you will do to assist our students during these challenging times, and I will continue to update you on the status of the budget and its impact on our university.