Senate appropriations committees released Tuesday proposals for budget reductions to most of state government.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Education/Higher Education's budget proposal calls for a 2.4 percent recurring budget reduction to the UNC system -- a total of about $42 million.
The budget Gov. Mike Easley unveiled last month called for a 5 percent -- or $92 million reduction -- to the UNC system.
Legislative leaders also announced in April that they might have to cut even more than that from the UNC-system budget.
"I'm exceedingly pleased with the subcommittees' recommended budget," said J.B. Milliken, UNC-system vice president for public affairs. "It is certainly a smaller reduction than what has been discussed."
The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to compile all the recommendations into one budget proposal to bring before the full Senate in the next few days.
After the Senate approves the budget, it must head to the state House for approval.
Legislative leaders, and Easley, have expressed a desire to have the state budget in place by July 1, the start of the 2002-03 fiscal year.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Education/Higher Education also recommended funding $66 million to fully meet the UNC system's enrollment growth needs for the 2002-03 academic year.
Unlike in Easley's budget, funding for enrollment growth will not come from an as yet nonexistent state lottery but from general fund appropriations.
Part of those appropriations will come from an across-the-board tuition increase approved overwhelmingly by the UNC-system Board of Governors in March.
The BOG approved an 8 percent increase for in-state students and a 12 percent increase for out-of-state students in the hope that the $40 million generated by the increase would entice legislators to fund the other portion and to have money to fall back on should the legislature not be able to fund enrollment growth.
"Just as last year, increased enrollment growth continues to propel the budget," said Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, vice chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Education/Higher Education. "The priority of the UNC system is access.
"You'll see this priority reflected throughout the budget."
One item that is missing from the budget proposal is $14 million UNC-system officials were hoping to obtain for need-based financial aid across the UNC system.
But Milliken said that while he is disappointed the committee chose not to fund need-based financial aid, he said securing funding for the program will remain a priority for the UNC system in future years.
"We're going to try to find a way to deal with that issue," Milliken said. "We'll be back next year trying to get increases for the financial aid program."
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