SDSU faces budget reduction of more than $739,000 after legislative cuts

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

SDSU will need to cut its budget by $739,799 next fiscal year as a result of the Legislature’s across-the-board cuts to the Board of Regents system.

The Regents took a $4.3 million across-the-board cut when the Legislature finalized its budget late last month. SDSU’s share of that cut is $1.5 million, but about half that will be replaced with the 4.6 percent rise in tuition and fees that the Board approved April 15. That leaves SDSU to absorb about a 2 percent base budget cut.

After deciding which programs, positions or activities to cut, SDSU will need to report specifics to the Board at its June meeting. Wes Tschetter, associate vice president for finance and business, said SDSU will look at leaving vacant positions open, and with the new AL Cloud, he said the university may be able to save money in lab costs. Though Tschetter said he cannot say that no one will lose a job in the next 12 months, if they do, it was part of the university’s larger long-range plan, he said.

“If a position is at stake, it is because it was part of a long-range plan, not a spur-of-the moment type of decision,” he said.

The cuts to SDSU are definitely manageable and not unexpected, Tschetter said. The university will deal with them from a planning perspective, and its biggest priority for this fall is to make sure students are getting a quality education, he said.

“Next fall, we’ll put faculty in the classroom and deliver services to 12,000 students, and that’s our mission,” Tschetter said.

Balancing out SDSU’s budget is a year-long process. Each year, Tschetter and other members of the administration meet with the deans to discuss budget challenges and ways their budget meets the instructional function of their college. Already this year, Tschetter, Provost Laurie Nichols and other administrators have hosted two rounds of budget discussions with deans and the heads of non-academic departments, such as the physical plant.

“The process never ends,” Tschetter said.

The university proper which does not include the Cooperative Extension Service or the Agricultural Experiment Station – has an overall budget of about $190 million in fiscal year 2010. Of that, $42.5 million came from state funds, $22.2 from tuition and $7.7 million from the salary competitiveness fee. Those three areas – which total $72.5 million – mostly fund the instructional purpose of the university, providing salaries and covering expenses for academic departments, Tschetter said.

SDSU’s overall budget also comes from $45.9 million in other/local funds, $37.1 million in federal funds – including $3.7 of stimulus funds – $21.3 in student fees apart from the salary competitiveness fee, $12.2 million in room and board and $680,426 from the Higher Education Facilities Fund and the Department of School and Public Lands.

A good portion of federal funds come from grants and the $21.3 million in student fees goes for things such as the AL Cloud, university support fee and general activity fee.

While some of this money is going to maintain and repair buildings, SDSU’s $190 million budget is generally not going to construct buildings, Tschetter said. Many times construction is funded by donors, such as with Phase II of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Complex and the visitor center at McCrory Gardens. The new residence halls are going to be funded by rental costs, and the Avera Health and Science Center was funded by gifts and $24 million of HEFF money. Twenty percent of tuition is put into HEFF to maintain, repair and build academic facilities.

While several students were not concerned by the upcoming budget cuts, they did suggest a few areas for the university to save money. Ashley Walz, a sophomore pre-nursing major, said she does not think the university should have spent money on the “fancy” arches for the new residence halls.

Justin Cunningham, a sophomore pharmacy major, said he thinks the university should look at the SDSU Police Department’s budget and encourage more efficient policing tactics. He said the university should not cut “quality of life” programs, such as the Student Health Clinic or tutoring services.

“It definitely would not be a good cut if that happens,” he said.

John Schmidt, a freshman computer science major, said the university should not cut tutoring services or the campus housing or dining services.

As for a cut, Schmidt proposed that the university look at the athletic budget.

This fiscal year at SDSU, athletics received $2.2 million from state general funds, $2 million from the general activity fee and $4 million from other sources, such as gate receipts, private donations and advertising revenue from scoreboards, Tschetter said.

“They will share in the budget cuts proportionally to their proper share,” he said. “We will work with them no differently than anyone else.”