Current as of January 7, 2010
Dear Campus Community:
As you will see in media reports this evening and tomorrow, Governor Sanford this afternoon released his budget recommendations for the fiscal year that will begin next July 1. As in past years, some of the proposals would impact higher education negatively if they were enacted, so keep in mind that the General Assembly sets its budgeting priorities independent of the governor’s recommendations, and that this is the beginning of a months-long budgeting process that likely will extend into the summer.
For your information, however, the following recommendations are included in the governor’s proposals:
- The governor has suggested approximately $88 million in additional cuts to higher education and cultural resource budgets statewide next year. He also has proposed reductions that would apply to all state agencies. Together, those reductions would cost Winthrop more than $3 million beyond the state reduction of almost $7 million already absorbed in recent months.
- Proposals regarding higher education range from further travel reductions, to two new “furlough days” for all state employees for next year, to operational reductions in student services and advancement at all institutions, to centralized administration of comprehensive universities like Winthrop being moved to Columbia. (Research universities – Clemson, USC and MUSC -- would be allowed to keep their own administrative and support services, while all 16 technical colleges would be run from three administrative centers in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston.)
Ironically, the governor’s budget message also notes (accurately) that “to achieve our goals of preparing our workforce for the global economy, our institutions of higher education must keep up with workforce needs. … we need well-prepared graduates with various levels of education.” He then says, however, that “rising tuition costs are making postsecondary education less accessible for many people in our state.”
Rather than elaborate myself on the disconnect between that latter statement and a gubernatorial budget that proposes taking millions of dollars more away from state support to higher education in the year ahead, I will quote Sen. Wes Hayes of York County, who this morning told a couple of hundred local business leaders gathered in Rock Hill that “if we didn’t have tuition, I don’t know that we’d have higher education” in South Carolina, given the decline in state support that has been occurring.
As you know, the revenue picture for the state continues to be somber, so nothing can be taken for granted, yet it should be kept in mind that the General Assembly and Governor have very different outlooks on budgeting even in difficult times, as was demonstrated last year. University presidents are remaining in touch and consulting about ways to protect our students and respective campus communities in these circumstances. We will be working closely with the General Assembly to tell our story throughout the 2010 legislative session, which begins next week.
Winthrop will continue to gather and share information with all of you through usual processes, emphasizing timeframes when key decisions are likely to be forthcoming from Columbia, so that we all be as informed as possible during these challenging times.
Winthrop’s approach to these matters continues to be a firm commitment to protecting our prerogatives for the future against the demands of the present. We will continue to emphasize that point in talking with legislative leaders in the weeks ahead, as they begin budget hearings that will be addressing simultaneously the budget situation for the remainder of this year as well as the fiscal year that will begin on July 1.
Meanwhile, please keep in mind that we are demonstrating successfully to our students that adaptation to change is a capacity we all must develop in ourselves, while continuing to make progress on our long-term goals as well. Many thanks for all you are doing to help set that example.