Augusta State anticipated more state budget cuts

State exempts K-12 schools from further spending reductions

Augusta State University officials said Friday that they don't foresee more furloughs as a result of a new 4 percent spending cut to state agencies ordered by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Instead, the university will cut back on equipment purchases and campus maintanence projects, according to ASU spokeswoman Kathy Schofe.

In May, ASU officials said they would offset much of a previously announced $773,000 state funding cut for this fiscal year with increased tuition for new students and some current ones. The university also said it would rely more on part-time faculty.

Perdue ordered already slimmed-down Georgia agencies to take another 4 percent spending cut starting in August because the state's new budget relies on federal stimulus money that might never come.

Perdue exempted K-12 schools from the latest cut, but not the university system.

Medical College of Georgia officials did not respond Friday to requests for information about the cut's effect.

The cut will hit agencies that hand out driver's licenses, educate college students and run parks, prisons and health care programs that cover more than a million Georgians. Those agencies employ about 90,000 people.

The move, which will save the state $25.5 million per month, is a pre-emptive one, the governor's office said. Congress could still come through with the stimulus money before the end of the year, but it's uncertain.

Perdue and lawmakers approved a budget for this fiscal year, which began July 1, that counted on about $375 million in extra federal Medicaid stimulus money. About 30 states wrote the extra money into their budget plans.

Conservative Democrats and Republicans in Congress stalled the funding, arguing that it added to the burgeoning federal deficit. Lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., say they can only support it if there are spending cuts.

The latest cuts could mean furloughs for more state employees. Some agencies are already making workers take days off without pay, but many more may have to do so with the new cuts.

Several agency officials said Thursday they are working on proposals to deal with the new cutbacks, but they don't have firm plans yet.

Preston Sparks covers education for The Augusta Chronicle; James Salzer covers government for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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