As the 2010 session of the Georgia General Assembly came to a close, the University System found its budget for fiscal year 2011 reduced by 10.4 percent, or some $227 million below the original state budget for the current year-a serious cut, but far less than reductions discussed at some points in the legislative process. The final cut to the B budgets was some 13 percent. On the positive side, the budget included a formula funding increase of $107.8 million, recognizing the increased student enrollment the University System is experiencing.
For the University of Georgia, the fiscal year 2011 state funding level is about the same as it was in fiscal year 2000, but in addition to obligations in 2000, the new budget must fund all salary increases of the past decade and an enrollment increase from 31,288 in fall 2000 to 34,885 in fall 2009.
Two UGA construction projects were included among University System projects receiving bond funding: $3.05 million for equipping the new special collections libraries already under construction, and $7.7 million in design and planning funds for the new Veterinary Medical Learning Center. In addition, $900,000 for medical education expansion survived the budget process, having been removed by the Senate but restored in the final budget compromise.
“I want to thank the governor and legislature for assisting us in several key areas during very difficult economic times,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “I am also grateful to our faculty, staff and students who have responded with their usual professionalism and commitment to these challenges.”
In other action, House Bill 1128 passed, providing greater flexibility to University System institutions in carrying forward unexpended funds from one year to the next.
Senate Bill 308, the so-called “Gun Bill,” also passed, somewhat weakening current gun-carrying restrictions on campus. It eliminates the 1,000-yard no-carry buffer zone around university-owned property and allows legally stored and permitted guns to be on campus in parked cars.
Acting on May 11, the board of regents approved a $500 per semester tuition increase for the coming year for all undergraduates not grandfathered under the “Fixed for Four” tuition plan, partially mitigating the severity of the state budget reduction.
The president has scheduled the fourth in a series of campus budget forums to be held May 19 at 3:30 p.m. in the Tate Student Center theater. The campus community is invited.