How will budget cuts affect SDSU?


Tony Gorder And Brittany Westerberg

By Tony Gorder SDSU could see $775,000 in funding cuts if Gov. Mike Rounds’ proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2010 passes the Legislature. “His proposal really is the start of a process,” said Bob Otterson, executive assistant to SDSU President David Chicoine. “Right now, the governor’s budget is on the table for discussion.” The reductions SDSU faces are part of $5.5 million in proposed cuts from the South Dakota Board of Regents’ Fiscal Year 2010 budget. “We understand the Governor needs to make the hard decisions, and we support him in making those hard decisions,” said Janelle Toman, director of information and institutional research with the South Dakota Board of Regents. Shortfalls exist in the state budget, which the Regents will have to help to make up, with SDSU’s share being $609,000 for Fiscal Year 2009. “You’re really dealing with two different budgets – one a proposed budget, one a current budget,” said Otterson. “They really are two different things even though they may feel like one right now.” The 2009 Fiscal Year runs from July 2008 to June 2009, and the 2010 Fiscal Year runs from July 2009 to June 2010. Cody Burr, a sophomore nursing major from Paynesville, Minn., said, “I understand that cuts have to be made. I just hope they don’t pass it to the students by raising fees.” During the Students’ Association meeting on Jan. 26, President Chris Daugaard said, “Normal students will not see a direct impact.” “The effort will be made to minimize the impact on students should these budget proposals hold,” said Otterson. “The Board of Regents has made it very clear that at a time of reduced revenue, it wants to protect the high-quality education and the emerging research capabilities of its universities.” Regarding the current 2009 fiscal year, SDSU is being asked to find $609,000 in savings this academic year. In addition, the Agriculture Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service will reallocate $68,000 and $86,000, respectively. Hiring, travel and equipment “represent a good chunk of this $609,000,” said Otterson. “The university will leave some positions vacant – positions funded by state money. Equipment purchases made with state money may be delayed, and travel will be reduced, particularly out-of-state travel.” Otterson said adjustments would be made in academic areas, as well, and deans have been asked to come up with plans to achieve savings in their respective colleges. The 2010 fiscal year budget cuts $600,000 from maintenance and repair funds for academic buildings. This affects a program that was approved by the 2008 Legislature. The state planned to incrementally match student fees for maintenance and repair over a four-year period eventually matching 100 percent. SDSU had only received a 25 percent match in the 2009 Fiscal Year. “The governor has taken that off the table given the economic restraints in the state right now,” said Otterson. “Part of the effect will be a reprioritization of maintenance and repair projects should the governor’s budget hold.” The governor’s new budget also cuts $175,000 from other programs and activities. Of that $175,000, $21,000 is earmarked to come from the Agriculture Experiment Station, and $154,000 is expected to be from operations and the university proper, said Otterson. Another part of the governor’s proposal is to reduce funding for the Cooperative Extension Service by $1 million. Construction projects will not be affected by the current shortfall or the revised budget for Fiscal Year 2010. “Construction projects, for the most part, are funded outside of state resources,” said Otterson. “Many of the current capital projects are driven by private funds – donors.” The planned new residence hall and dining services addition and remodeling also will not be affected. “The residence halls and dining services are funded through usage,” said Otterson. “Students who live in the residence halls pay a certain amount to live in the residence halls or to eat on campus. Those funds then go to pay for that project, so those are also independent of state general fund money.” Otterson said the Board of Regents’ focus was to keep educational and research standards high. “The Board of Regents has made it very clear that at a time of reduced revenue, it wants to protect the high-quality education and the emerging research capabilities of its universities,” said Otterson. Lawmakers speak out By Brittany Westerberg Brookings Legislators know that this will be a difficult time for students at SDSU and at all the universities across the state. “What’ll be important is for us to make wise cuts, cuts that we know will be difficult but that we have to make them,” Rep. Carol Pitts, R-Brookings, said. “I hope that as SDSU decides how they’re making their cuts that it will be as painless as possible to (students).” The money cut from the Board of Regents budget – amounting to about 1.3 percent of the total budget, according to Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings – will mostly be accomplished through some of the things Gov. Mike Rounds put forward, such as reduced travel and the slowing down of filling open positions. “I’m hoping that they don’t come forward saying they’re going to raise tuition now at this level in order to balance off what they’ve been cut,” he said. Where the specific cuts are made at the local level will be up to President David Chicoine and the department heads at the universities. Tidemann said that as long as the needed classes are being taught, students should not feel the ill effects of this shortfall. “We’ll see if there’s other cuts that need to be made, because our goal is to balance the budget,” he said. “We do that by increasing revenue. If that’s not an option, then we have to make cuts in order to balance the budget.” The $1 million cut from the Cooperative Extension Service – which has a separate budget from SDSU – is a little disconcerting for the legislators, since it adds up to about 12 percent of its general funds. Tidemann said 16 people may lose their jobs in extension, which would take care of the service’s shortfall. “Cooperative Extension Service is an integral part of a land grant university,” Pitts said.

#1.882014:2274865214.JPG:DSC_0230.JPG:With the proposed reduction in repair and maintenance funds, projects across campus could be delayed. Harding Hall has been undergoing renovation since this summer.:Ethan Swanson