Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Regents Examine Ways to Trim $35 Million in College Funding; 'Cut from Top,' Protesters Chant as Board Meets to Follow Deal's 2% Directive

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Regents Examine Ways to Trim $35 Million in College Funding; 'Cut from Top,' Protesters Chant as Board Meets to Follow Deal's 2% Directive

Article excerpt

Byline: Walter C. Jones

ATLANTA A new wave of 2 percent budget cuts may ripple through state government if the governor orders it, and Tuesday the board in charge of the state's public colleges was the latest agency to prepare for smaller spending.

Even though tax collections are rising compared with last year, Gov. Nathan Deal asked every state agency to forward a plan to him for a reduction in current-year spending that could be carried over into next year so the state's rainy-day reserves can rebuild. He'll decide when he submits his budget recommendation to the General Assembly in January if he'll activate the cuts in the current fiscal year, next year or not at all.

Sixteen protesters started chanting as the Board of Regents began discussion of the budget.

Calling for the board to "cut from the top," the chanting continued for just a couple of minutes while the board recessed and left the room. About 200 administrators in the audience remained in their seats.

When two uniformed officers arrived, the students walked out the door in single file while chanting, "They say cut; we say, 'fight back.'"

The regents returned and soon voted unanimously with little discussion for the reduction plan outlined by staff.

If the regents activate their plan this year, half of the $35 million in University System of Georgia cuts will come from personnel.

Georgia Health Sciences University would eliminate 37 positions.

President Ricardo Azziz said, "The public needs to realize there has been a constant, deep freeze in funding."

He said the impact will reverberate beyond the campus.

"Most of these universities are major employers in their communities," he said.

At the University of Georgia, 135 part-time positions would disappear, requiring 12 layoffs.

UGa President Michael Adams said the university has already cut 600 positions in three years, half from classrooms in adjusting to $140 million in total reductions over that time. …

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