Current as of March 17, 2009
Please be advised that there will be a special called Budget and Control Board (BCB) meeting on Wednesday when an additional across-the-board budget cut of 1.7 percent is to be discussed.
At Winthrop, this reduction would be approximately $310,000 in additional savings that we must return to the state between now and the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Please know that because of the good work done to date across the campus in implementing various operational efficiency strategies and sharing sacrifices so far this year, Winthrop is positioned to be able to absorb this level of reduction without increasing furlough time for personnel. Should state cuts be made deeper in the remainder of this fiscal year, we will have to reassess our situation accordingly.
Keep in mind that the board members could opt for a different amount. (In December, the discussion began around making a cut in the 4-5 percent range, but members ultimately approved a 7 percent reduction.) The proposed 1.7 percent cut is substantially above the level of reduction in the revenue estimate that had been made last week when the S.C. Board of Economic Advisers met, lowering the estimate by 1 percent. Two factors could be contributing to the difference: Tax collection trend lines could suggest that a 1 percent cut would not be sufficient to address the level of shortfall expected by June 30, and officials could be hoping to forestall the need for an additional reduction even later in the year.
We will update you tomorrow regarding the final action of the BCB.
Also in the news today, please be advised that Governor Mark Sanford has put forth to President Obama a second alternative plan for use of federal stimulus funds. In this alternative, the governor proposes using a portion of the federal funds to reduce construction bond indebtedness of $579 million in “State School Facilities Bonds and Research University Infrastructure Bonds over two years,” according to his letter. Please keep in mind such a plan would be detrimental to Winthrop in two ways: Removing the operational budget support intended by the Congress and failing to provide any relief to Winthrop on the construction side. The latter is a reflection of the fact that the “Research University Infrastructure Bonds” referenced provided zero new construction support for any institution besides Clemson, USC-Columbia and MUSC. All non-research institutions received only minor funding for deferred maintenance when the General Assembly adopted that act several years ago, so a proposal to divert federal stimulus funds from operations to reduce a portion of just three institutions’ bonded indebtedness would only worsen the state’s history of failure to fund its two- and four-year institutions sufficiently.
Preliminary reports we are receiving from Columbia indicate this proposal is being seen just as negatively as the previous effort to divert stimulus funds from their intended purposes. We will update you if this situation changes.
Best wishes for a good break from routine for all who are able to take some time away from campus this week. It is difficult to believe the home stretch toward Commencement will be in front of us when we gather next week. As always, many thanks for all each of you has been doing for Winthrop throughout this challenging year.