Dec 112002
Authors: Melissa Pester

While a statewide budget shortfall has mandated that CSU return $14.5 million to Colorado by July 1, CSU administrators do not know how this cut will affect the university.

“It is still to be determined how this will affect CSU and the students,” said Keith Ickes, the associate vice president of Budgets and Institutional Analysis at CSU. “We are currently going through a process of figuring out our budget.”

On Nov. 12, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens released his proposed state budget for fiscal year 2003-04, much of which focused on funding for education. Less than two weeks later, Owens asked state agencies to cut more than $500 million out of the state’s $13 billion budget due to a statewide recession.

“Because we have not engaged in excessive spending as seen in other states, Colorado is far better positioned to weather these tough economic times and to rebound stronger than ever,” Owens said in a prepared statement. “In fact, while other states are slashing services and doing massive layoffs, this has not happened in Colorado.”

Changes to the CSU budget are still being processed. There are 56 departments on campus, all of which need to decide what changes they will make to their budgets.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are doing our best to fashion it so it is as harmless as possible to the students,” Ickes said.

Tom Milligan, director of media and community relations at CSU, said the university is in better shape than other institutions that receive state funding.

“Everyone in the state of Colorado will be affected by (the budget cuts),” Milligan said. “But I believe that CSU will be in better shape due to the fact that we are a fiscally conservative-run place.”

By fiscal year 2004, which begins July 1, 2003, CSU must cut the $14.5 million out of its base budget.

“Clearly, this is a serious and significant challenge that will require cooperation and involvement from all sectors of the university,” said CSU President Albert C. Yates in a prepared statement.

According to Milligan, CSU has $2.4 million in reserved funds set aside for cases like a budget cut. These reserve funds will go towards the $8.4 million to be cut from the budget this year.

Yates has implemented hiring and spending restrictions to the vice presidents of CSU’s departments. The restrictions are expected to yield another $2.5 million towards the cut.

“The remaining $3.5 million needed this fiscal year can be taken from central reserves and current-year revenue over budget, specifically tuition income of $2.5 million, centrally allocated indirect cost recovery funds of $800,000, and $200,000 in carry-forward central reserves,” Yates said.

Ickes said the Department of Academics is currently having the most trouble with the cuts because they control the colleges. A budget plan should be set by the beginning of January, and by March 2003 is the planned date to have a set and prepared budget for CSU, Ickes said. Milligan said the future remains uncertain.

“It is impossible to say that something will or will not happen,” he said. “We don’t know just how much this will affect the people of Colorado. But I know that at CSU we will work at maintaining educational excellence, as always.”

Other budget highlights

Not the whole state will suffer cuts – other areas will actually see an increase. Owens’ proposed budget highlights include full funding of K-12 education and increasing the state’s share of total program education funding by 5.3 percent, or $129 million.

The Department of Corrections’ budget would increase by 7.5 percent, while the total prison budget would increase by more than 12 percent.

Social programs would also see more money. Owens’ budget would increase funding by $6 million for the developmental disabilities program, and would add $1.7 million to funding for child welfare programs.

“This budget sets priorities, focusing on the essential functions of state government. I believe it offers a responsible and realistic spending plan in what will continue to be a challenging economic environment,” Owens said in a prepared statement.

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