Saturday, May 14, 2011

University of Minnesota President Bruininks

Furious About Bill to Cut 14.4%

The day after lawmakers finished work on their higher education funding bill, University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks previewed how he would handle the cuts.

A wage freeze. Employees paying more for health care. Layoffs.

"I'm hot as hell about it," Bruininks said of the bill after a Board of Regents meeting where he outlined how he would grapple with it.  
Bruininks' budget for the coming year will use reductions and efficiencies to solve two-thirds of the "total budget challenge" created by state funding cuts plus increasing costs, he told the regents. About one-third will come from revenue, including tuition increases.
Asked whether the funding cuts passed Thursday would mean immediate layoffs, Bruininks said yes, but declined to give more detail.

Several of his proposals concern Phyllis Walker, president of AFSCME Local 3800, which represents about 1,600 clerical workers at the U. She said the health care proposal, in particular, would burden the U's lowest-paid workers.

"Our members have told us they are not going to put up with any more health insurance increases," she said Friday. She recommended that instead the U cut the pay of its administrators and middle managers.
Bruininks promised Friday that undergraduate tuition increases would be kept in the single digits and said the U is modeling a 5 percent tuition increase for Minnesota residents. That's within the bounds of the bill's 5 percent cap.
"I think it's terribly hypocritical to pound the devil out of the University of Minnesota's budget four years in a row and then be real preachy about limits on tuition," Bruininks said. "We know we have to keep higher education affordable. That's job one at the University of Minnesota."

This has not always been the case, Mr. President:  

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