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University System of Georgia seeks $49 million budget increase

Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 7:45 PM
Last updated Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 1:06 AM
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ATLANTA — The Uni­ver­sity System of Georgia is asking Gov. Nathan Deal for a $49 million budget increase next year, according to a resolution the Board of Regents unanimously approved Wednesday.

The boost represents a 2.6 percent increase to the system’s $1.9 billion share of taxpayer money.

Deal’s Office of Planning and Budget instructed all agencies to make do with the current year’s funding except health and medical agencies that are funded through formulas that account for participation growth.

The University System saw its student enrollment shrink, which would subtract $20 million from the funding formula. At the same time, adding buildings to the system in the past year qualifies it for $20 million more in maintenance funding.

“We are getting to where enrollment growth no longer drives the formula,” said John Brown, the system’s vice chancellor for fiscal affairs.

Georgia’s enrollment decline mirrors a national trend and is expected to continue into the foreseeable future because of demographics. Georgia also changed its policy and no longer admits students who would need remedial help in three subjects, which Brown said accounts for half of the state’s decline.

He predicted that future budgets would be increased by the system’s switch to funding universities on the basis of the number of students they graduate rather than how many they enroll.

While the enrollment decline and the building increase offset each other, the funding formula is mainly boosted by rising health care costs. The federal health reform law represents $21 million. Another $24 million in increased costs for various retirees and employee health expenses is also a factor.

Separate from the added money from the formula, the system is requesting $3 million to help hospitals create courses for new physicians pursuing their residencies.

Brown said the system isn’t specifically requesting money for faculty and staff raises, but creative administrators might figure out a way to fund them.

“To carve out a salary increase, it’s going to be tight,” he told the regents.

Each 1 percent salary increase for all state workers costs taxpayers $130 million, with $80 million of that needed for kindergarten-through-high school teachers.

After the regents’ meeting, Chancellor Hank Huckaby, a one-time state budget director, said the system was careful to pare down its request.

“Our budget request continues to be conservative and reflects our highest priorities – teaching students and meeting key state needs,” he said.

“We are committed to our stewardship and accountability for taxpayer dollars and in ensuring more Georgians have access to and can complete college.”

The regents also approved the system’s request for the state to borrow money from bond investors for $235 million in construction and major repairs.

Among the projects is $5 million to equip a cancer-research building under construction at Georgia Regents University and another $4.6 million to replace the ventilation system at Reese Library.

The University of Georgia would see construction of a $45 million science building and $5 million to renovate and expand Baldwin Hall. The University of North Georgia would get $2.5 million for its Oconee Campus annex.

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nocnoc 09/12/13 - 07:02 am

The educational system charges too much now,

The Students have to take out 10-20 years loans to get the education.

The graduating Students are faced with very limited job opportunities to repay the loans.

So the Students take a break to avoid going broke.

The bureaucrat solution?
Spend more taxpayer $$$$$ shoring up the Educational system where a college dean makes more than the State Governor.

Riverman1 09/12/13 - 07:37 am
“We are getting to where

“We are getting to where enrollment growth no longer drives the formula,” said John Brown, the system’s vice chancellor for fiscal affairs.

Translated, there are not enough students to pay the bills so we need more tax money to featherbed the jobs. In the private sector such a circumstance would make downsizing in order.

resident 09/12/13 - 08:02 am
building more building???

Less students, Fancier buildings, and a multitude of other items that to me could be postponed or dropped instead of taking more taxpayer money. I am not against modernizing but it seems to me every time a school says they do not have enough money and they need to raise tuition they then all of the sudden build multimillion dollar facilities or buy land and make yet another millionaire.

nocnoc 09/12/13 - 08:51 am
Any bets we soon hear

Obama-Colleges - Free Associate degree college to the 2nd year.

Likely with a hook attached:
That they must teach revisionist history, liberal political agendas, and social-economics as a classes.

thauch12 09/12/13 - 02:24 pm
I've said it once and I'll

I've said it once and I'll say it again: higher education is a privilege not some God given right. This blank check mentality that public education in the state of Georgia operates under is absolutely ridiculous. Folks are unfortunately going to have to take out loans to go to college. It sucks but as long as the BOR continues with these stupid expansion projects counting on students who may or may not actually materialize, the cost of higher education is going to go up. It's a sad fact of life.

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