constraints may dominate General Assembly
By Dan Heuchert
are some central truths that the General Assembly must face as
it begins its annual session in Richmond this week.
the two-year budget that it approved last year, in the midst of
a booming economy, needs some adjustment. It was predicated on
an anticipated 5.25 percent growth rate; the actual rate was closer
to 3.25 percent, Del. Paul Harris, R-Albemarle, told a U.Va. audience
at the annual legislative forum, held Jan. 5.
Gov. Jim Gilmore is determined to uphold his commitment to repealing
the car tax, which means increasing the refund rate from 49.5
percent to 70 percent, as had originally been provided for in
his phase-out plan. He rejected advice from senior financial advisers
to freeze the refund in his package of budget amendments released
in December, instead calling for a package of budget cuts and
bond issues to balance the books, he said recently.
"There is extremely strong sentiment in the community to phase
out the car tax," he said. "This is what the public wants."
the University and its employees, that means little or no state
funding for new initiatives and some changes in financing for
previously approved capital projects.
"This is going to be a fascinating session, especially given the
budget constraints this year," state Sen. Emily Couric, D-Charlottesville,
said at the Jan. 5 forum.
majority of operating increases included in the governor's proposed
budget are for salary increases. Teaching and research faculty
are slated for a 3.4 percent increase in December, which the state
says will allow the University to remain at the 60th percentile
of its peer institutions.
the governor's plan underestimates the increases at peer institutions,
according to figures prepared for U.Va.'s State Governmental Relations
Office. It allows for a 2 percent increase in 2000-01 and 1.9
percent in 2001-02 at those schools, although in the past 10 years,
the lowest such increase has been 3 percent. In 1999-2000, the
University's faculty salaries actually were rated at the 48th
percentile of its peer group.
employees, administrative and professional faculty, adjunct and
part-time faculty, and graduate teaching and research assistants
are all slated to receive merit-based increases averaging 3.5
percent under the governor's proposal. Under the new compensation
plan, classified employees who rate "contributor" on their annual
evaluations would receive a yet-to-be-fixed increase of between
2.8 and 3.5 percent, with "extraordinary contributors" receiving
an increase of between 3.5 and 8.75 percent.
proposes cutting other operating-budget items, including across-the-board
spending cuts of 1 percent during the current year and 2 percent
in the coming fiscal year in student services (the Dean of Students
office and University Career Services, for example) and institutional
support functions (administrative and financial offices). His
proposal also anticipates spending less on advertising and recruiting,
telecommunications, procurement, and employer contributions to
the faculty's optional retirement plan; the reductions total $325,000
in the current year and $2 million in the coming year.
governor included no state funding for any of the University's
proposed operating initiatives.
a legislative panel, the Joint Subcommittee on Higher Education
Funding Policies, recently completed a study of higher education
funding levels. Its conclusion: U.Va. receives between $17 million
and $18.5 million less in state operating support than it should
-- and that does not include funds for maintenance and operation
of the physical plant.
the capital side of the budget, the governor proposed no new state
funding for University requests. Gilmore proposes funding four
major capital projects as part of a $249 million statewide bond
issue for higher education construction, backed by revenues from
the state's share of a nationwide tobacco settlement. Two items
-- the $9 million renovation of Fayerweather Hall and construction
of a new studio art building, and funds to address the University's
maintenance backlog (increased from $6.7 million to $8 million)
-- had been slated to receive state general-fund support, but
are now part of the bond package.
included in the governor's proposed bond package is $15 million
toward the proposed MR-6 medical research building. The balance
of the project's expected $50 million total cost will be borne
through non-state sources. The fourth proje
There are at least two other bond bills introduced in the legislature,
which vary in their support for U.Va. projects, said Nancy Rivers,
director of state governmental relations.
Gilmore's request, five state schools, including U.Va., submitted
"institutional performance agreements" to the state in the fall,
which tied increased funding to achievement of specified goals.
The governor's budget did not address the agreements.