UNC system President Erskine Bowles stops just short of turning cartwheels today, so pleased he appears to be at the final state budget rolling out this week.
Bowles has reason to be happy. The final budget cut to public universities is $70 million, far less than the $175 million the State House had proposed.
The House proposal would have forced the elimination of 1,700 positions across the university. It isn't yet clear how many jobs will be lost to the approved $70 million cut because a provision allowing state campuses to increase tuition up to $750 complicates the math.
A tuition hike would increase revenue for campuses, but it isn't yet clear, officials say, whether campuses want to raise those rates.
Here's what Bowles has to say about the state budget.
“Legislators really stood up for our University and our 225,000 students in these hard times when money is scarce. On a relative basis and particularly considering the economic climate, the 2010-11 state budget we received from the General Assembly was nothing short of remarkable.
We knew there were going to be significant cuts in every part of state government, and the University took its fair share. But the legislature really worked hard to help us protect the quality of education we can deliver to our students. While there were targeted cuts to various University programs, the legislature held additional management flexibility cuts to $70 million.
In the end, the General Assembly also committed to fully fund the University’s requests for need-based financial aid, enrollment growth, and operating reserves for new buildings. It also adopted the Board of Governors’ alternative tuition plan for the coming year and authorized additional tuition increases to help offset the impact of budget cuts. Importantly, the final budget does not include a provision that would have effectively capped University enrollment growth and denied access to qualified North Carolinians.
This tangible show of support is vitally important to the economic future of North Carolina. The Board of Governors, our boards of trustees, faculty, staff, and most importantly, our students join me in thanking the General Assembly for this remarkable show of confidence in our public universities.”