The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday February 1st

Not what we need

Although hurricane victims surely could use the money, 0.75 percent budget cuts imposed on state agencies still come at an awkward time.

The Office of State Budget and Management recently told state agencies they will be hit with one-time budget cuts of 0.75 percent to help finance emergency hurricane relief. UNC-Chapel Hill's contribution will be about $2.85 million.

It's really a shame, and a tough position for the UNC system, especially UNC-CH, to be in. The cuts represent almost $3 million University officials had thought would be in place this year.

But now, they have to give that amount back - leading to more administrative slicing and dicing that ideally would have been complete before the semester began.

Granted, the cut applies to all state groups - not just the UNC system. But that doesn't change the fact that the cut being passed at this point does system and University officials no favors. After all, UNC-system schools are only three months into the academic year, with several months to go.

Officials across the system basically are being compelled to decide what can be cut on the fly, and their decisions undoubtedly will have visible effects at each of the system's 16 schools.

Thankfully, UNC-CH students can rest assured that the one-time cut likely won't affect them directly. Shirley Ort, associate provost and director of scholarships and student aid, said need- and merit-based aid will be protected.

Additionally, Richard "Stick" Williams, chairman of the UNC-CH Board of Trustees, said the one-time cut shouldn't affect the debate about potential tuition increases. That's great, because it shouldn't. It's not a permanent cut, so officials involved in tuition decisions must realize that the University won't need to find new revenue to counter this 0.75 percent decrease next year.

At the beginning of the school year, officials had a small reason to sigh with relief. The UNC system had survived the summer relatively unscathed by the General Assembly's budget axe, as this year's 1.47 percent cut was considerably less than the flexibility cuts state lawmakers handed down in 2003.

Though it is nonrecurring, this unfortunate cut negates some of that initial relief - because 0.75 percent of the University's budget certainly isn't chump change.

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