From: News Alert E-Memo (memofrom@Colorado.EDU)
Date: Mon Jan 12 2009 - 16:15:34 MST
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 16:15:34 -0700 (MST) From: News Alert E-Memo <memofrom@Colorado.EDU> Subject: President Benson's Budget Communique 1.12.09
TO: UCB Students
FROM: Office of the President
SUBJECT: President Benson's Budget Communique 1.12.09
Jan. 12, 2009
Dear Members of the University of Colorado Community,
The difficult global economic situation is having a similar negative impact on
Colorado. As we know from experience and have seen in media reports, higher
education is unfortunately a prime target when it comes to state budget cuts. I
have been working closely with the chancellors to address the issue. The
process will be driven at the campus level, with the chancellors also
coordinating with system administration.
I want to share with you the best information we have at this point about our
budgets, actions we have already taken, and how we intend to proceed. These
three areas will be the focus of the Board of Regents meetings on Tuesday and
Wednesday of this week. In these worrisome times, consistent and frequent
communication is important. I will provide you with periodic updates such as
these, as well as more frequent updates at www.cu.edu, under the heading
"Budget Updates." Official communications relating to the CU system will come
from me and official communications regarding the campus budgets will come from
As we are forced to cut budgets, we will be guided by certain principles. We
will proceed with an open and transparent process. The university will seek
input from system and campus governance groups and work with them throughout
the process. We intend to maintain, as much as possible, our core activities of
undergraduate, graduate and professional education, and research.
Actions We Have Taken
Regarding steps we have taken already: Although higher education was not included in the hiring freeze the governor announced in September, we have been scrutinizing open positions and filling only those that are mission critical. We have suspended some of our capital construction projects (by governor's order) and most major equipment purchases. Our administrative efficiency task force is generating ideas for reducing, and in some cases eliminating, onerous and sometimes costly internal regulations. These actions will be augmented by additional steps when we know precisely what we are facing.
We also are looking at areas where we can attract revenue. CU submitted to the
governor and our national congressional delegation a list of 14 capital
construction projects and 18 controlled maintenance projects worth some $597
million in hopes of securing funding from the coming national economic stimulus
package. We are also increasing our presence in Washington, D.C., with the goal
of attracting more federal research funding, in addition to securing funding
for other projects.
I have met individually with each campus chancellor and chief financial officer
to review current budgets and plans. We did a thorough analysis of campus
budgets to get a sense of the financial condition of the campuses and discussed
revenue streams, expenditures and the financial implications of strategic plans.
What We Know About Budgets
Regarding current state revenue estimates, we are taking the conservative
approach and working from the estimate that the shortfall to the current fiscal
year (2008-09) state budget is up to $600 million. The governor has said he
will issue his recommendation on how cuts will be distributed on Jan. 15. He
is also expected to present his revised 2009-10 budget proposal to the
Legislature on Jan. 23. Between the current and upcoming fiscal year, we
anticipate the state may have to cut at least $1 billion from the state budget.
In past recessions, higher education has taken a disproportionate share of the cuts due to constitutional provisions, funding mandates and other requirements that have made more than 80 percent of the state budget "untouchable." We are working with the governor and legislators to ensure CU does not take a disproportionate share of higher education cuts, as has happened in the past. During the last recession, CU took 41 percent of the higher education reductions, even though we received only 28 percent of the revenue. We also are stressing to them, as we have been doing for some time, that higher education is a critical economic driver and source of human infrastructure, and that cuts will have a significant negative ripple effect throughout the economy. The education and innovation we provide are crucial to Colorado's economic health.
We are continuing to work with the Joint Budget Committee and legislators,
Governor Ritter and his budget staff, and the state Department of Higher
Discussions with the Regents
We will ask the Board of Regents this week to act on a resolution that calls on
lawmakers to adopt legislation to provide us more flexibility in our operations
by changing limitations in existing statutes and allowing us to opt out of
certain statutes and create higher-education specific rules. We are asking for
flexibility in areas such as financial aid distribution, tuition setting, and
eliminating the state process for capital construction projects that are fully
cash funded, among others.
We also will convey to the board that we are exploring all options, but before
proceeding too far, we need the more detailed targets from the governor that
will come on the 15th and 23rd of January.
I am confident that working together, we will be able to address our challenges. It will take the collective effort of the Board of Regents, administration, campus leaders, faculty, staff and students. The process will initially be campus based, but we will also weigh factors across the system. Budget cuts will be neither easy nor painless, but the work we do is too important not to give it our best effort. The University of Colorado has been an important contributor to our state, nation and world for more than 133 years, and we must ensure that it remains so.
I am committed to providing you with the latest economic news as it is
available, and to update you on how we proceed internally. You can provide
feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, thank you for your
commitment to CU.
Bruce D. Benson
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