Regents present budget strategy

ATLANTA --- As ordered by Gov. Sonny Perdue, the Board of Regents voted Tuesday to cut spending 4 percent in the current fiscal year for the University System of Georgia while asking for a raise twice that big for next year's budget.


For the Medical College of Georgia, that would mean freezing vacant positions but no layoffs, an official said.

At Augusta State University, administrators will step up energy conservation and halt conversion of some conference rooms into faculty offices.

In reaction to weak tax collections, Perdue instructed all state agencies except the Department of Education to trim spending just one month into the new budget year. Collections rose roughly 4 percent in June and again in July, compared to the same months of past years, but his staff said the governor would wait before deciding whether to relax the cuts.

The regents met Tuesday and will meet today on the eve of students' return for fall. Each of the 35 schools presented a summary of its budget cuts to the regents.

The schools also prepared budget revisions for cuts of 6 and 8 percent, in accordance with Perdue's governmentwide directive. That will prepare them in case he orders deeper cuts. The 4 percent cuts do not include any furloughs.

At MCG, 4 percent is about $5.8 million, said William R. Bowes, the senior vice president for finance and administration. That would mean freezing 36 vacant faculty and staff positions.

"Mostly, it will be staff because we are already in this year and it would be very difficult to cut faculty positions this year, if not impossible," Bowes said.

The school might continue talks with its health system about increasing the amount the hospital and clinics pay for graduate medical education, he said.

At the University of Georgia, the 4 percent cuts will mean 25 faculty and 25 graduate assistants won't be hired as planned. Maintenance of buildings and restoration of library materials will be delayed, and expansion at the Griffin campus will be put off.

The regents also approved a request to Perdue for $2.1 billion for the next fiscal year. It is $182 million -- 9.5 percent -- higher than what the Legislature appropriated for the current year. Of the increase, $145 million is to cope with 19,000 more students.

The request includes $1.7 million to accommodate the second class of students attending the Athens campus of MCG in conjunction with the University of Georgia and to create a clinical campus in Rome. The first Athens class began its studies Monday.

Staff Writer Tom Corwin contributed to this article.



Applications open for magnet schools

Program applications for magnet schools in the Richmond County school system will be available today for the 2017-18 school year.

... Read more

Columbia County student arrested in bomb threat

A Columbia County student was arrested Monday after making a bomb threat, police said

About 10:50 a.m., deputies... Read more