Public Affairs

November 5, 2010

UA Regents roll up sleeves for budget meeting

For Immediate Release
Nov.  5, 2010

The University of Alaska Board of Regents will consider the FY12 operating and capital budgets for the 16-campus system when it meets Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Anchorage.

Public testimony will begin at 10 a.m. in Room 107 of the Lee Gorsuch Commons at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. The meeting is expected to run until 3 p.m.

In addition to the budget, the board also will consider schematic design approval for the Life Sciences Classroom and Lab facility in Fairbanks, which was part of a general obligation bond voters solidly endorsed Nov. 2. Other university projects in the GO bond, including a sports facility for UAA students and the Anchorage community, are gearing up to come before the board for approval in the coming months.

UA President Pat Gamble has proposed a hold-the-line operating budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2011.

“The university has to zero in on just those mission areas, both academic and support, that are the most important for our students and the state,” Gamble said. “This is a modest budget that steers dollars where they’re needed the most, while maintaining a system balance.”

The budget blueprint would require 40 percent from the state treasury matched by 60 percent in UA-generated revenue. It emphasizes initiatives that strengthen student retention and graduation, investments in high-demand health, biomedical and teacher education programs, engineering, distance learning and enhancements to the university’s competitive research opportunities in the fields of fisheries, energy and the Arctic.

Not included at this stage is an increase for faculty and staff salaries. Contracts with the four separate unions at the university expire at the end of December, and the amounts needed to fund the collective bargaining agreements won’t be known until negotiations are finished. Regents are expected to consider compensation for non-unionized staff at this meeting, but that amount isn’t known yet either. Even if salaries are increased at modest levels, it would add another several million to both the general fund request and the university’s proportional share.

On the capital side, the FY12 request totals $82.5 million in state general funds, matched by $130 million in university dollars. Those university dollars include a $100 million bond issue proposed by Gamble that would fast-track a sizable portion of the university’s long list of deferred maintenance.

“It’s vitally important that we immediately take steps to halt the deferred maintenance free fall,” Gamble said. “If the board agrees that the best means to aggressively tackle this issue is through the proposed internal UA bonding, then that’s the direction we’ll go.”

Projects on the capital list focus on maintenance and repair. They include community campus projects across the state as well as in Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage.

Still to be decided are tuition rates for 2012-2013. An advisory task force made up of students, faculty and staff has met numerous times in recent weeks and is in the process of reviewing a variety of tuition proposals. The board will hear a report on the group’s efforts, but no action is expected on tuition at this meeting.

In September, the board delayed a vote on rates for 2012-2013, and didn’t support a proposal to increase the rate for lower division classes by another 5 percent for 2011-2012.

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For more information, call Kate Ripley at 907/450-8102 or 907/388-3506. For a copy of the Board of Regents’ agenda, go to www.alaska.edu/bor/ and click on “agendas.”

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