After Cutting Millions, Lawmakers Give Back

After cutting $23.5 million from the state’s colleges and universities, lawmakers handed back $4.6 million Wednesday.

Earlier this month the Executive Appropriations Committee requested that each subcommittee cut state agency’s budgets. In response to the request, the Higher Education Appropriations Committee carved $8.8 million from the state’s institutions. This was the second budget cut this year.

Fiscal analysts have requested the cuts because of a $200 million tax-revenue shortfall.

After the cuts were made, fiscal analysts reviewed the budget and decided to reappropriate some of the funding to state agencies Wednesday.

As part of the $4.6 million given back to higher education, the U will receive about $1 million.

The less money the U has to cut from academic programs, the lower the tuition increase will be, according to Paul Brinkman, associate vice president for budgeting and resource planning.

U President Bernie Machen has yet to announce what he will do with the additional funding, said Nancy Lyon, assistant vice president for government affairs.

Even with the announcement of the returned cut, the U has lost more than $7 million to budget slashing since May 2001.

Machen may spread the money back evenly to each department or office at the U, Lyon said. He could also hold on to the money to help fund one time costs, such as fuel and power.

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake, tried to amend the reappropriated proposal.

“Students are in the classroom and professors salaries have already been set,” she said. It is too late to cut this deep into higher education’s budget, she said.

Arent, who serves on the Higher Education Appropriations Committee, voted against the cuts when they were first presented, saying it isn’t fair to cut too deep into the budgets this late in the year.

Wednesday, Arent attempted to amend the bill by adding $10 million from the state’s rainy day fund to be reappropriated to the institutions. However, the amended bill lacked the votes to pass and was shot down by the committee.

Higher Education Commissioner Cecelia Foxley said she was grateful state representatives saw the need to return some of the state money.

“Any funding will help. It’s a challenging year, but higher education has made it through challenging years before,” she said.

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