FHSU prepares to deal with 'devastating' budget cuts

With revenues continuing to shrink, Gov. Bill Graves announced $78 million in additional cuts in the state's budget for fiscal year 2003, which began July 1. The cuts announced Tuesday come in addition to the $41 million that the governor cut in August.

"The magnitude of the cut is devastating for Fort Hays State University, and it puts into serious question our ability to fulfill our mission and serve the citizens of Kansas," President Edward H. Hammond said Tuesday night after returning early from a meeting of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

"While the governor talks about a budget cut of 3.9 percent at Fort Hays State, which translates into $1,229,871, that does not tell the whole story," Dr. Hammond said. "We must add the global reduction of $246,670 that the Legislature imposed on us for this fiscal year, the unfunded mandates from the Legislature for FY03 of $818,093 and the $303,179 reduction that the governor imposed on us in August. That makes total reductions in FY03 to date of $2,597,813, or 8.13 percent, from our FY02 state general fund budget."

Calling it the "Thanksgiving budget cut," President Hammond said that he and his administration team have been working to determine how the latest cut would be implemented. "With almost half the budget year gone, we likely will have to use some one-time money to cover the latest cut," he said. "We were hoping education in its entirety was going to be held harmless."

"We were able to manage the other reductions in various ways, but this will drastically reduce our ability to provide service to our students," he said. "How we implement the Thanksgiving budget cut is something we have to work on over the holiday and into next week. I hope to have a complete strategy in place by Friday, Dec. 6."

President Hammond said three management principles would be applied:

1. Reductions will be strategic rather than across-the-board;

2. Reductions will be mission driven, with emphasis on maintaining the quality of the student learning experience as the highest priority; and

3. Every effort will be made to maximize the system synergies and resources through inter-institutional collaboration and cooperation, with continuing emphasis on reducing administrative expenses.

The president pointed out that Fort Hays State was impacted to a greater degree than any of the other universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system. The cuts were announced as a percentage of state general fund money, but Fort Hays State had the biggest percentage cut in terms of total budget, which also includes tuition revenue.

"I hope that as we manage this reduction, the new governor and the Legislature will work hard to restore these devastating cuts," the president said. "We will announce our strategy next week."

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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu