U.Va. budget priorities
face uncertain fate in legislature
By Dan Heuchert
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
spending plan, formally unveiled Dec. 17, included a mixed bag
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Office of Governmental Relations updates its web site regularly
during the General Assembly session. See www.