The UNC system's governing board signed off Friday on a budget request that will ask the General Assembly for $168 million in new funding for next year.
That's about half the new money the university would have requested had the state economy been strong, officials said this week.
In explaining the budget request this week, UNC President Erskine Bowles pointed out several times how seriously he takes the state's economic situation. He called in the chancellors of all 17 public university campuses in recent weeks to spend an hour each justifying every dollar they'd asked for. None got everything they wanted.
Here's what Bowles told board members this morning:
"Some people have told me that putting forward a budget request of any size is foolhardy. But I think it's my job...to lay out this university's needs."
"Every single item in this budget has been vetted with our chancellors. It has been pressure-tested. Every single dollar we receive, we will use as efficiently and effectively as possible."
The requested $168 million would be new money above and beyond the $3 billion that is part of the university's operating budget and funded each year.
Yesterday, I blogged here about a discussion board members had yesterday about giving higher priority to a request for $5 million over two years to set up a payroll system to look after the finances of nine campuses, some of which have run into some money problems revealed over the last year by the state auditor.
An attempt yesterday to make that item a higher priority failed. But today, with the full board voting, it succeeded. Yes, this is a lot of inside baseball, but the crux of it is this: A request for $5 million over the next two years to help the UNC system set up a payroll system and create some new accountability measures went from the last of its 10 priorities to the 4th.
Said Hannah Gage, the board's chairwoman:
"Fiscal integrity isn't an item on an agenda. It's the foundation that lets us go over there [to the legislature] with our head up high. We need to do this."
The total budget request is attached below if you'd like to read it yourself.