State may not go after restricted revenues

Shawntaye Hopkins

Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s administration is attempting to offer universities some flexibility in meeting a recent budget cut.

But a standing figure still seems to be blocking relief.

State Budget Director Brad Cowgill told the Senate appropriations committee Tuesday morning that institutions could produce funds for a $45 million cut without making cuts in their restricted revenues.

Restricted revenues include tuition, grants and other money self-generated by universities.

Cowgill could not be reached for comment.

Fletcher mandated a 2.5 percent budget cut for most state agencies last month. University presidents discovered last week that the cut would be made in both unrestricted and restricted revenues.

The $45 million figure is 2.5 percent of higher education’s restricted revenues. It translates to $2.1 million for Western. The cut is intended to help create $100 million to carry over to the 2004-05 fiscal year and ease revenue shortfalls.

Cowgill told the committee that universities could choose to give back state funding, or unrestricted funds, instead of cutting into their restricted revenues.

But Ransdell said most of the money was probably going to have to come from state funding.

So there is little relief, he said.

“It’s still the same money,” Ransdell said. “It’s still the same dollar amount.”

Sen. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, agreed with Ransdell.

“It probably gave some flexibility, but I don’t think it gave any real relief,” said Guthrie, who attended the meeting.

University administrators are still going to have to worry about how they are going to make the cut, Guthrie said. The big issue is the dollar amount, he said.

Western administrators will know more about how the institutions will have to make cuts on Friday when university presidents meet with staff of the Council of Post-Secondary Education, said Robbin Taylor, director of government relations at Western.

Sandy Woodley, vice president of finance for the CPE, said universities would be able to wait and have money cut from their state funding in next year’s budget if they choose. But some universities might still decide to cut restricted revenues.

Fletcher’s administration is currently trying to get $45 million. Theoretically, the amount could be achieved through cutting restricted or unrestricted revenues, Woodley said.

The $45 million figure could also change, Woodley said. She said they won’t know until Fletcher presents his budget on Jan. 27.

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