funds for new buildings still on hold
to stay in the driver's seat, Gov. Jim Gilmore announced
March 12 at press conferences around the state that he had balanced
the budget. While preserving the phase out of the car tax, he
left higher education capital projects and salary raises by the
wayside for now.
the past several weeks, the governor has worked on finding $421
million to make up the shortfall in the current two-year budget
after the General Assembly
was unable to agree on a package of budget amendments. Gilmore
decided not to require operating budget cuts from colleges and
universities that he mandated at other agencies, and lifted a
statewide hiring freeze imposed shortly after the General Assembly
continues to be delayed for U.Va.'s new studio art building
($7.8 million), special collections library ($7 million) and two
chiller plants (almost $140,000). Gilmore restored some maintenance
projects, including the replacement of the Davis electrical vault,
installing sprinklers in the Chemistry Building, making handicapped
accessibility modifications, clearing asbestos, and putting almost
$3.4 million in the reserve fund.
state's Department of Planning and Budget has set up an appeals
process to review delayed capital projects and decide whether
to restore any of them. U.Va. is considering possibilities for
what should be appealed, said Nancy Rivers, U.Va.'s director
for state governmental relations.
the governor calls a special session of the legislature, or if
two-thirds of the House and Senate agree to convene, they could
introduce "narrow" bills that address specific measures
such as salary increases. The governor can cut the budget, but
he cannot increase state spending without legislative approval.
governor will save about $72 million from reducing the contribution
rate to the Virginia Retirement System, but that does not apply
to the optional retirement plan to which most faculty subscribe.
Reducing that contribution rate was part of the governor's
proposed budget amendments, but was not passed since the General
Assembly did not come up with a compromise budget.