The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday January 25th

NC Senate proposes no new budget cuts to UNC system

The state’s biennial budget is now being debated in the N.C. House of Representatives. The General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory, who proposed his budget last month, need to reach a compromise by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

The Senate budget is an important step forward in the process, said UNC-system President Tom Ross in a statement.

“The 2014-15 draft state budget released by the Senate Appropriations Committee offers clear evidence that the N.C. Senate understands the critical role our public universities must continue to play in North Carolina’s economic future,” Ross said in the statement.

Ross’ statement also stated the UNC system will still work with legislators on employee salaries.

The Senate proposed an $809 base salary increase for UNC-system employees. McCrory proposed an increase of $1,000.

But Alex Parker, president of the UNC-system Association of Student Governments, said he doesn’t think the proposals invest enough in higher education.

The UNC system has absorbed nearly half a billion dollars in cuts since 2011, and the Senate budget would not restore any funding previously lost.

“This is a very critical moment in our state,” Parker said. “These next couple of years are going to decide if we’re going to invest in the UNC system, or if we’re going to lose our status as a high-caliber university system.”

McCrory’s budget recommended an additional $56 million cut to the UNC system. Smaller schools would be exempt.

The UNC-system Board of Governors has been asked by legislators to consider consolidating the system and closing a school in the future, Parker said.

A provision in the Senate’s budget first draft called for the closure of any system school that’s enrollment declined by over 20 percent since 2010-11.

The only school that qualified for closure under the provision is Elizabeth City State University, a historically black college. The provision was opposed by black senators and the ECSU community, and it was not included in the finalized budget.

“We are grateful that the proposed budget provision has been removed from the Senate budget bill,” said ECSU Chancellor Charles Becton in a statement. “ECSU will continue on its plan to right-size and increase enrollment.”

Parker said fiscal uncertainty makes it difficult to implement long-term strategic plans.

“Not knowing what the future budgets are going to look like in the next couple of years is extremely degrading to the UNC system,” he said.

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