Kaine to College: Prepare for more budget cuts

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July 8, 2009

3:37 PM

The state is once again asking the College of William and Mary to prepare plans for budget cuts.

State colleges and universities, along with all state agencies, must submit plans for budget cuts of five, ten and 15 percent to Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine’s office by July 22.

At the College, that could be between $2 million and $6 million, according to Vice President for Finance Sam Jones ’75 M.B.A. ’80.

Although it is still possible state universities will not face budget reductions, Jones said a reduction is likely.

“I’m expecting it,” he said. “Now, the level, I don’t think there’s any way to understand what that would be at this point.”

The request comes just days into the new fiscal year, after four consecutive years of state budget cuts. Last year the state also asked higher education institutions to plan for five, ten and 15 percent cuts. Then, in October, Kaine cut the budgets of the College and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science by 6.6 percent, or $4.9 million.

VIMS is overseen by College administration but funded separately by the state.

Jones said the College’s finance staff will likely work on the proposals until the July 22 deadline. However, for the College, there is “not a whole lot of options” when it comes to trimming the budget.

“It gets more and more difficult to cut operating funds and that type of thing because this is, I think, the fourth round of budget reductions,” Jones said. “So we’ve already taken actions to reduce operating funds for things like travel and printing and all of those kinds of things.”

Instead of operating reductions, some variation on a hiring slowdown or freeze is possible.

Jones also noted that it is “too early to say” on mid-year tuition increases to offset cuts.

“We’ve already set tuition on next year,” he said. “Certainly students and their parents have planned on certain amounts and so it’s not an action you would take without a lot of thought.”

For now, all the College can do is hope for an improvement in the state and national economies, which would ease pressure to cut the budget and could eventually lead the state to restore some money to universities.

Jones, however, is not optimistic for any near-future improvement.

“The crystal balls aren’t real good about when there’s going to be recovery,” Jones said. “We would like to think in the long haul that some of this money comes back, but I’m not sure we can plan on it in the next couple of years. But you talk to a different economist and they may have a different answer.”

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