Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So Sue Me, Pfutz...

And in response to Pfutzenreuter:

"Tell him to sue me," Rukavina said.

"It's in the bill, tell him to sue me."

From an email I received yesterday:

The language of the bill stipulates that the Board of Regents must not raise fees or tuition “beyond the amount currently planned for the 2008-2009 academic year.”

Faculty Legislative Liasons, May 19, 2008

From MPR

Higher Ed cuts should spare students higher tuitions
by Art Hughes, Minnesota Public Radio
May 20, 2008

St. Paul, Minn. — The budget reductions are a dose of financial pain for the U of M and MnSCU. But the final numbers in the weekend agreement between legislators and Gov. Tim Pawlenty are less than half of what Pawlenty originally proposed to cut to help fix the nearly $1 billion budget hole.

Starting in July the U of M will have to work with $6 million less than the state budget mapped out last year. The Legislature allowed several options for this year's cut to help soften the blow, according to U of M Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter. "We'll address that budget cut by reducing one-time spending items that are available to us as well as using some of our--which is like the state, a relatively small reserve--but we'll dip into some of that to cushion that first cut."

Just a little more than a week ago, university officials discussed the possibility of hiking tuition 9.5 percent this year, two percent above what they originally planned. That plan was a worst-case scenario if budget cuts approached the governor's proposal of $27 million, Pfutzenreuter says.

"That 9.5 percent is absolutely off the table. This reduction is substantially smaller than that and we're just not contemplating that kind of an increase anymore."

The financial outlook has the U of M cutting costs and seeking new revenue. A U of M regents panel approved incentives for early faculty and staff retirement. If an expected six percent of employees participate, it could mean as much as $50 million in savings. The administration is also considering a new student fee to fund certain construction projects. It would start as a $25 per year cost for first year students this fall. In five years it would increase to $100 a year for all students.

Even as it deals with the budget reduction, the U of M emerges from the session with some $140 million in construction and repair money, and another $217 million to build four new high-tech science buildings.

MnSCU should be able to absorb much of the cut without affecting individual campuses, says Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affiars Linda Kohl.

"We also will be able to keep our tuition increases at the lowest level in a decade: two percent increase for students attending community and technical colleges and three percent for students attending state universities."

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