Originally created 09/09/04

State universities face job cuts



ATLANTA - State colleges and universities might be forced to cut up to 1,100 nonfaculty jobs and increase tuition by 10 percent to make up a $68.7 million shortfall in its budget.

Chancellor Thomas Meredith said Wednesday his staff will review exactly how much tuition needs to be raised and how many staff members will be reduced through retirement and possibly layoffs.

He is expected to present a proposal next month to the Board of Regents. The budget reductions were requested last month by the state.

"The decision has been made" to trim the University System of Georgia's budget, Mr. Meredith said. "Here's the path we're going to have to take in order to maintain academic quality for the state of Georgia."

One plan Mr. Meredith's office released Wednesday would increase tuition by 10 percent and eliminate 1,100 nonfaculty jobs. Another proposal would increase tuition by more than 22 percent and eliminate nearly 300 nonfaculty jobs.

Since November 2001, the university system's budget has been cut by $382 million, mainly because of shrinking state revenue from Georgia's struggling technology, tourism and transportation industries.

"We've cut the fat out of the system and this additional money means we've got to make some tough strategic choices," said Joel Wooten Jr., the chairman of the Board of Regents. "Sixty-eight million is a lot of money."

Because of concerns that the tuition increases will hit low-income college families hard, Mr. Meredith said the university system will ask the Legislature to change state law so that a portion of the tuition the state's colleges and universities receive can be used for need-based scholarships.

The University System also might face additional cuts in its future budget.

The Board of Regents on Wednesday approved three budget recommendations for the 2006 fiscal year.

One budget would match the $1.6 billion 2005 budget. Another plan would add $80.5 million dollars to the 2005 budget. But a third plan would lower the 2005 budget by $48.3 million dollars.