No layoffs, employees assured
By Matt Kelly
officials tried Tuesday to explain an unfolding state budget picture.
meetings at Newcomb Hall and Facilities Management, Colette Sheehy,
vice president for management
and budget, relayed the most recent state budget information
coming from Richmond and its impact on the University. She stressed
that the information is preliminary.
House of Delegates and State Senate have each issued their own
budget plans. On Thursday, the House and Senate are scheduled
to approve their versions of the budget, which then go to a conference
committee of six senior lawmakers charged with crafting a compromise
budget by March 9. The final package then goes to Gov. Mark Warner,
beginning the clock on a 30-day response period during which he
has the authority to veto line items from the spending plan.
disability coverage still on the table in the General Assembly
The House and Senate back a plan to reopen enrollment in
Sickness and Disability plan, which also includes long-term
disability coverage. If employees do not want to join this
plan, they will have to opt out.
The House proposes a 2.7 percent, across-the-board salary
increase in November 2003 for faculty and staff.
The Senate proposes 2.5 percent of faculty salary base in
2003 and 2 percent in 2004 for one-time bonuses or other
incentives. The Senate also calls for classified employees
to choose a one-time bonus payment equal to 2.5 percent
of base compensation in 2003 and 2 percent in 2004, or 10
days of paid time off.
House measure calls for a 2.7 percent pay increase for state employees
effective in November 2003. The Senate plan gives classified staff
an option of a 2.5 percent, one-time bonus or two weeks off with
pay for the 2002-03 fiscal year, with an additional 2 percent,
one-time bonus or two weeks off in 2003-04. The same plan is available
for faculty, but with more flexibility on how the plan is administered.
has expressed concern that the Houses pay increase plan
would be funded by money taken from the Virginia Retirement System,
Sheehy noted, adding that the investments in the system are doing
well and she does not believe the state would put the system in
wants to protect current employees and no layoffs or hiring freezes
are planned, Sheehy said. However, U.Va. has plans to eliminate
79 staff, administration and faculty positions that are already
vacant or will soon be through retirement.
is facing a 15 percent cut in its state revenues, about $25.4
million, in the 2002-03 fiscal year. That number jumps to 20 percent,
about $33 million, the following year, Sheehy said. However, only
about 37 percent of U.Va.s education and general budget
comes from tax money, the rest being made up by tuition and private
sources, so the impact of the cuts is lessened.
the House and Senate budget plans assume that state universities
will raise tuition 5 percent for in-state students and 8 percent
for out-of-state, graduate and professional students, though both
bodies set limits. The House capped in-state tuition increases
at 7 percent, while the Senate set a 9 percent ceiling. The proposed
budget plans also call for more flexibility for university boards
to set tuition. The Senates plan also includes a $1-per-credit-hour
fee to help pay debt service on the Building Virginias Future
capital fund program, the proposed bond project to fund capital
construction in universities across the state.
noted the House budget would eliminate all but $5 million of the
maintenance reserve fund. She speculated that lawmakers anticipate
fewer maintenance costs because there will be many existing buildings
renovated under the proposed capital construction project.
also noted that the University is faring well in the capital side
of the budget. The $126 million South Lawn Project which
includes the construction of a new building in the B-1 parking
lot, the demolition of New Cabell Hall and the construction of
a replacement building, and extensive renovations of Cocke and
Rouss halls has gained legislative support.
the other points Sheehy discussed was the establishment of a Commission
on Health Benefits formed by the Senate to recommend a revamped
health benefits program for the state workforce. The commission
is slated to deliver its report Oct. 1. The Senate also called
for increasing compensation for employees planning to retire in
a time of no pay increases, since retirement is based on the last
three years earnings.
the meeting, some employees complained about the Universitys
decision to increase parking fees and insurance premiums at a
time when employees are not given pay increases. Others questioned
why the state was talking about pay increases and layoffs simultaneously.
employees questioned how any potential raises would be distributed,
arguing that people on the lower end of the pay scale should receive
higher percentage increases. Sheehy replied that the state, not
the University, sets pay rates for classified staff.
there have frequently been budget disputes between the two houses
of the legislature and the governors office, last year,
for the first time in state history, the disagreement became so
heated legislators and the governor could not reach an agreement.
This year, all are optimistic that there will be a resolution
of the budget versions by the scheduled conclusion of the General
Assembly. The two-year budget will begin on July 1.