Budget Update #1 — January 17, 2003

Campus Colleagues:

This morning, Governor Pawlenty announced his plan for managing the current biennium budget deficit. This includes a $50 million cut in higher education funding split equally between MnSCU and the University of Minnesota. We anticipate this will result in an approximate $2.1 million cut to St. Cloud State University’s current allocation. We will be completing a plan for managing this reduction, but with the care we have taken to maintain our reserves and cash, we should be able to weather the situation without significant impact on students.

A more looming issue is the affect the estimated $4.2 billion shortfall in the ‘04-’05 biennium will have on higher education in Minnesota. It is critical that we begin to discuss its possible budget implications for St. Cloud State University today.

It is important that everyone on campus have access to information regarding our budget, so I am writing the first of a series of “Budget Updates” as a way to keep our campus community informed as new information arrives. This will be a supplement to the more formal communication that occurs through the Meet and Confer processes and the University Council. To assist communication even further, we will be establishing a Web site to publish and exchange information, solicit ideas and dispel rumors, as well as a series of open campus meetings.

Final budget determination for St. Cloud State University is a long process. The precise scope of the problem and its impact on SCSU will not be known with any certainty until late in the legislative session. Adding to the complexity of the situation is our limited experience with the new governor and many new legislators.

SCSU is in the process of developing tentative plans based on the most recent information available. To that end, we recently placed limits on non-contractual out-of-state travel, limited filling of positions and ended funding of refreshments for on-campus meetings. These are difficult but necessary first steps.

MnSCU and SCSU have a limited number of choices in dealing with the budget. The state appropriation makes up about half of the system’s annual budget. Spending cuts, tuition increases and raising additional resources from external sources are the three major ways we can respond to reductions in state funding.

As we move through this difficult process, I look forward to hearing your suggestions and your continued commitment to ensuring our students are well served.

Roy H. Saigo
President