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The Daily Tar Heel

System's Share Of Budget Falls

During the 2001 fiscal year, North Carolina will devote 12.4 percent of its total budget to the UNC system -- down from 12.9 percent in 2000 and about 15 percent just a decade ago.

The 16-campus UNC system receives about 40 percent of its annual funding from state appropriations.

State appropriations to the UNC system are set to grow to $1.789 billion during the 2001-02 fiscal year -- an increase of nearly $100 million from last year, according to the state budget that Gov. Mike Easley signed into law Wednesday.

"What is important to note is that despite a decline in our overall percentage of the total state budget, we have actually increased in the total amount that we have received," said UNC-system spokesman J.B. Milliken.

The University had its recurring budget cut slightly from the budget the Board of Governors proposed last year. But the system was given full funding for its largest expansionary budget request -- $40 million to contend with increased enrollment.

Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Cleveland, said the UNC system's share has dropped partly because funding for K-12 education has increased, including an increase in teacher pay.

Dalton, who is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee, also said it is often difficult to strike a balance between public schools, the UNC system and the amount of available funds. The two education systems combined to take up about half of the state's revenue.

Milliken also said other issues, such as health care, have commanded increasingly more attention from state officials in recent years.

Milliken added that the state supports the UNC system in ways other than direct appropriations.

He cited a $3.1 billion higher education bond referendum the state's voters passed in November that will fund capital improvements on the state's university and community college campuses.

The General Assembly voted unanimously in May 2000 to allow the referendum.

But Rep. David Redwine, D-Brunswick, who is the co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the UNC system's funding survived the state's budget problems relatively intact.

"The University system got cut less than any other part of the budget," said Redwine.

Several other state agencies suffered much deeper cuts in their budget -- including the Department of Health and Human Services, which had its budget cut by about $70 million.

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