Western’s budget cut plan best in a tough situation

When Gov. Ernie Fletcher announced last month that Kentucky’s colleges and universities would have to pay for more than $70 million in budget cuts, many expected the worst.

Western administrators said that there was a possibility that it would have to cut programs and jobs. Everyone was scared.

All expected drastic changes that would really hinder Western from offering students a quality education. People were on standby ready to have to help fix a major education disaster that would hurt the way Western runs as everyone knew it.

But when Ransdell presented the budget cuts for Western, which were approved by the Board of Regents on Friday, everyone got a a nice surprise.

No major education fix-ups will be necessary under this plan.

Cuts are never good, but we commend Ransdell and the Board of Regents for approving budgets cuts that did not require the elimination of programs or departments.

Of course, some people are going to be unhappy about the cuts. Students will not like paying $20 if they don’t drop out of classes quick enough or paying more for transcripts. New employees will not like waiting before they can get benefits. Other employees will be unhappy that they will be losing benefits like discounted basketball game tickets and free classes.

It’s not good that departments will have to give back 50 percent of their carry-forward funds from the previous fiscal year or for revenue-dependent departments to give a percentage of their funds. But this isn’t an ideal time. Western didn’t plan on giving back $5.6 million of its budget.

But when everyone thought that these cuts on Western would have a major negative impact on our day-to-day operations, this budget cut is not as bad as it could have been. Western has been spared from such disaster by simply implementing fees and practices that are already being done at other universities and businesses. At some places, employees have to wait for just as long or longer to get benefits. Students at other universities already have to pay for transcripts and dropped classes. While these fees and cuts may sting everyone a little, we realize that Western is keeping up the standards.

These new practices and policies will not only help Western pay these particular budget cuts, but it will allow it to be more efficient and save money should there be future budget cuts, which seems pretty likely right now.

Fletcher said that he wanted to eliminate waste. In a way, he’s enabled universities to do the same. While the things that were cut under this plan were beneficial, this cut has helped Western to be more efficient. It is encouraging to see that Western can save on little things instead of making really catastrophic cuts.

This plan is probably the best Western can do at a really difficult time. Students, faculty and staff will have to sacrifice some things, but at least these cuts won’t cause people to give up jobs or a quality education.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 9-member board of student editors.