Jan. 14-20, 2000
IN THIS ISSUE
U.Va. budget priorities face uncertain fate in legislature
Casteen sets up planning task force on athletics
Hot Links - Virginia Sports
Sexual assault education

Lawyers fueled railroad's takeover of the South

Visions of the University's future
In Memoriam - Everard W. Meade
King celebration to feature Derrick Bell Jan. 22
TOP NEWS

U.Va. budget priorities face uncertain fate in legislature

By Dan Heuchert

As the 2000 session of the state General Assembly convened Jan. 12 in Richmond, University administrators hoped to win legislative support for several projects left out of Gov. James Gilmore's proposed $41.8 billion budget for the 2000-02 biennium.

Gilmore's spending plan, formally unveiled Dec. 17, included a mixed bag for U.Va.

On the positive side, it proposed a 3.4 percent salary increase for teaching and research faculty, keeping them at the target benchmark of the 60th percentile of their counterparts at peer institutions; funds for several needed infrastructure projects, including the central Grounds chiller plant, a new electrical vault and a sprinkler system for the Chemistry Building; an additional $2 million for maintenance reserves, bringing the total funding to more than $12 million; and almost $280,000 for enrollment growth, marking the end of a policy that required universities to absorb enrollment increases of less than 2 percent annually without additional funding.

The plan also includes a 2.4 percent pay raise for administrative and professional faculty and classified staff. On the negative end, the governor's plan included just $710,000 in general-fund money over the two-year cycle for the University's 23 proposed operating budget initiatives, which totaled more than $105 million. On the capital side, the governor endorsed just $16.3 million of U.Va.'s $70.1 million in requests for state funds. Of that $16.3 million, $12.1 million would go toward the maintenance reserve -- listed as the University's No. 1 priority -- leaving only $3.2 million in state funds for new construction.

Compensation report due One issue state employees will be watching closely is reform of the classified compensation system. A report from a commission charged with overhauling the system was due in December, but was delayed until Jan. 14, said U.Va. Chief Human Resource Officer Thomas A. Gausvik, who has worked closely with the commission as chair of its technical advisory panel.

Compensation report due One issue state employees will be watching closely is reform of the classified compensation system. A report from a commission charged with overhauling the system was due in December, but was delayed until Jan. 14, said U.Va. Chief Human Resource Officer Thomas A. Gausvik, who has worked closely with the commission as chair of its technical advisory panel.

The omissions sent the University administration scrambling to re-examine which priorities it will seek to have addressed through the legislative budget amendment process, where they face an uncertain fate. Local legislators, speaking to U.Va. employees Jan. 7, anticipated having about $1 billion in surplus funds to allocate, but cited many competing interests for them, including transportation needs, K-12 education, aid to localities, low-income housing, tax relief, and preservation of the state's open spaces in the face of development pressure.

When the University goes back to the legislature, its top budget request will be funding for the Integrated Systems Project (ISP), which seeks to replace U.Va.'s core administrative computing systems with standardized software, said Colette Sheehy, U.Va.'s vice president for management and budget. The University had requested $14.2 million in general funds and authorization to spend $11 million in non-state funds over two years; the governor denied both requests.

Even if the University is not able to obtain state money, the ISP will continue with local funds, Sheehy said. The University will continue to make budget requests, as implementation of the ISP is scheduled to continue for several years.

The University's other operating budget amendment priorities include $11.25 million for start-up laboratory costs to attract top science and engineering faculty, a concern which may be partially addressed by a proposed statewide, $20 million "Technology Competitiveness Fund" to benefit researchers; $15.4 million in reimbursements for physicians' care for indigent patients, which would support medical education; $1.8 million to reduce the deferred maintenance backlog; and an undetermined amount to support the University library, including expanding digital collections.

The University also plans to make several budget amendment requests for capital projects. Administrators decided to combine separate requests for improvements to Fayerweather Hall and a new studio art building and parking facility into one $13.6 million project. Other requests include $46 million ($25 million in general funds) for a new Health Sciences Center research and education building; $3.2 million to replace the Campbell Hall chiller; $2.8 million for improvements to Gilmer Hall teaching labs; $3 million to plan a new Arts & Sciences building; authorization to spend an additional $1 million in local funds on the Law School expansion; and a change in the financing of an addition to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The Charlottesville-area delegation -- Del. Mitch Van Yahres and Sen. Emily Couric, both Democrats, and Republican Del. Paul C. Harris -- were mostly non-committal when asked about U.Va.'s budget amendments, noting the heavy competition for surplus funds and the political power of the Northern Virginia delegation, largely regarded as strong advocates for George Mason University. Both Couric and Van Yahres did specifically mention support for the Virginia Youth Violence Project, a joint U.Va.-Virginia Commonwealth University anti-gang program that was defunded under Gilmore's proposal.

New funding may hinge on the fate of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education's proposed "institutional performance agreements." Under the plan, Virginia's colleges and universities will negotiate individualized plans that will guarantee funding based upon meeting specific accountability targets. Gilmore may have been awaiting a decision on the plan before making any further commitments to higher education, Couric said.

Despite the fact that Republicans control the governor's mansion and both houses of the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, Gilmore's budget will not be rubber-stamped, the legislators agreed. Even Harris, a strong Gilmore supporter, indicated that he would like to see some of the state's $1.6 billion tobacco settlement windfall go to health-care priorities -- including perhaps funding U.Va. physicians' indigent care -- rather than only to transportation projects, as Gilmore proposed.

Gilmore's budget continues the statewide in-state tuition freeze that first began in 1996 under his predecessor, George F. Allen. Gilmore, in his first budget last year, rolled back tuition charged to in-state students by 20 percent, but provided replacement funds to individual institutions. He proposes to continue that policy in this budget.

U.Va.'s Office of Governmental Relations updates its web site regularly during the General Assembly session. See www. virginia. edu/~govrel/home.htm


HOME

© Copyright 1999 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

UVa Home Page UVa Events Calendar Top News UVa Home Page