Feb. 28-March 13, 2003
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Legislature: Cuts, caps and salary raises
Latinos see ‘world of difference’ in community
Digest -- U.Va. news daily
Headlines @ U.Va.

Writing is ‘like breathing’ for Argentine author

A day in the life of Yacov Haimes
Call for help -- ER doc pushes for wireless E-911
Police chief logs first year
‘Slave to Scholar’
Tours highlight African-American history at U.Va.
Two distinguished faculty members die
Small-town southern life
Nature writers to speak
Forum lines up powerhouse of scholars
On Alert: Be cautious, be calm

Legislature: Cuts, caps and salary raises

By Lee Graves

Budget cuts and tuition caps imposed by the General Assembly have left officials at U.Va. and other public universities in the state reassessing their revenues, but the news from Richmond isn’t all bleak.

The legislature, which concluded its short session on Saturday, proposed helping pay for a 2.25 percent salary increase for state classified employees and faculty in November 2003. However, the increase depends on tax collections meeting state revenue projections.

The move to tie raises to revenues was seen as some — including Gov. Mark Warner — as a political ploy in an election year. Some state workers have not seen salary increases in two years, although eligible employees received a choice of a one-time bonus or time off last year.

“It’s wonderful the Assembly recognized the need to acknowledge the contribution of state employees,” said Yoke San Reynolds, U.Va.’s vice president for finance. “But we need to be cautious because the increase is contingent on the state receiving certain revenues.”

Cost-conscious legislators also imposed caps on tuition increases, and for U.Va. the ceiling amounts to 5 percent for in-state undergrads. The move limits the University’s ability to generate revenue to offset state budget cuts that amounted to about $51.6 million for 2003-04 before the Assembly’s new reductions.

“We expect that the tuition policy approved by the General Assembly would allow us to address the scheduled incremental budget reductions for next year without further reductions to departmental operating budgets,” said Colette Sheehy, vice president for management and budget.

Tuition at U.Va. and other state schools was frozen in the mid-1990s and rolled back later by former Gov. Jim Gilmore. Last year, the General Assembly voted to allow increases, and U.Va.’s Board of Visitors raised tuition and fees in the fall roughly 9 percent. In November, the board added a $385 surcharge for the current semester, bringing the amount for in-state undergraduate tuition and fees to $4,941.

By the end of the biennium, officials project that the percentage of state funds that support U.Va.’s academic division will have shrunk to about 13 percent of total revenue.

Raising tuition has been a rallying cry across Grounds this year. In October, Michael Smith, chairman of the Faculty Senate, gave an impassioned appeal to the Board of Visitors to raise tuition to a level that would adequately fund the core mission of the University while keeping it competitive with other top public universities.

Before closing business Saturday on the $52 billion, two-year state budget, the General Assembly cut an additional $592,750 from U.Va.-related programs. The reductions included $270,000 from the Medical Center’s Urology Center, $103,480 from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, $70,000 from the Institute for Nuclear and Particle Physics and $41,600 from the Center for Politics. In addition, the maintenance reserve fund was cut $1.5 million.

The Eminent Scholars Program, at one point considered for a hit of $3.2 million statewide and $2.2 million at U.Va., was cut $735,000 by the legislature.

Warner has until March 24 to act on the budget bill and other legislation. The Assembly is scheduled to reconvene April 2 to address any vetoes or changes.


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