After a return to full-formula funding for the University System of Georgia by last year’s session of the Georgia General Assembly, a top priority for the university in the 2013 session opening this week will be maintaining that funding. Full-formula funding, estimated at $96.3 million for the USG, is critical to meeting enrollment demands, providing for maintenance of new facilities, keeping tuition affordable and funding strategic initiatives.
“With the economic recovery still sluggish, the 2013 General Assembly will confront a very tight budget yet again,” said Tricia Chastain, UGA’s director of state governmental relations. “Given the many pressures on the budget, our agenda this year is conservative and focused on funding the growth in the formula and other limited priorities.”
Among those other priorities is $2.08 million to fund expansion of graduate medical education in Georgia, part of the board of regents’ strategic initiative to meet the state’s physician shortage. This program provides funding for the startup of new residency programs, giving more opportunities for in-state residencies to Georgia medical students, including those at the GHSU/UGA Medical Partnership. Both Athens Regional Medical Center and St. Mary’s Health System are expected to benefit from this funding. Georgia currently ranks 41st in the number of residencies per 100,000 population.
UGA also will support inclusion of USG major repair and rehabilitation funds and UGA projects in the state bond package. The systemwide MRR request is $50 million, and other items include $5 million for equipment for the new Veterinary Medicine Learning Center and $2.6 million for renovation of the Fine Arts Building as part of the USG’s small capital projects priorities.
UGA will join the USG in seeking reauthorization of the budget carry-forward law, which allows USG institutions to carry certain unexpended revenues across fiscal years, including technology fees, indirect cost recovery, departmental sales and services, and up to 3 percent of tuition income.
“This gives UGA flexibility to make rational budget decisions, fund strategic priorities over more than one year and respond to unexpected needs,” Chastain said.
On the federal level, Andrew Dill, UGA’s director of federal relations, will continue to work against any across-the-board reductions in federal research funding for agencies such as the National Institute of Health, the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Agriculture. “The scale of reductions proposed by some would decimate research budgets for universities across the country and lead to the loss of valuable university research-a loss that could be felt for years to come,” Dill said.