Higher education officials today got strict orders from Governor Phil Bredesen to move quickly and come up with a way to cut at least 10% from their budgets.
With the state staring at a projected $800 million budget shortfall next year, wholesale elimination of some academic programs, faculty layoffs and tuition increases are all expected to be part of higher ed’s restructured budget.
Those details weren’t available at today’s budget hearing, but the Governor made clear that he expected them soon.
“I don’t think you’ve got the luxury of sort of trimming this stuff back over the course of the next 3 years, I think you’ve got a reality of the money’s not coming through the front door and we have only so many rainy days funds, which we’re gonna get into this year just to get through the year. I’m perfectly happy to help soft land this thing if somebody’s got a plan, but those checks are gonna stop coming.”
The Governor’s main concern was that universities aren’t prone to move quickly and the higher-ed officials agreed it would be a challenge.
The Governor also said he didn’t want colleges and universities to make up the lost state dollars with outrageous tuition increases. University of Tennessee President John Petersen said any tuition increase would be the last thing decided upon.
The Governor and university officials are expected to discuss the budget cuts in more detail next month.