Archive for Thursday, September 23, 1999

KU CONSIDERS HIRING FREEZE

September 23, 1999

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Kansas University, regents begin planning for a 1 percent cut ordered by governor.

A 1 percent budget cut won't likely result in layoffs at Kansas University, but it will mean that many positions that now are open won't be filled anytime soon, university officials said.

Provost David Shulenburger said KU administrators began working Tuesday morning on possible ways to cut their budget. The rumor-fueled work was in anticipation of Gov. Bill Graves' announcement Wednesday afternoon in which he proposed a 1 percent across-the-board cut in general fund spending.

Shulenburger and Chancellor Robert Hemenway said the cut would amount to $2 million for KU.

Because KU receives about $130 million in state general funds, a 1 percent cut is equal to $1.3 million. Additionally, health-care costs are $700,000 more than expected for the university in this fiscal year. The Board of Regents was planning a supplemental request to cover the increase. Shulenburger said KU now will have to absorb that cost.

KU's entire general-use budget for the current fiscal year is $210 million. The general-use budget combines income received from tuition and state general fund money.

The initial plan to deal with Graves' request for a budget cut is to freeze hiring, Hemenway and Shulenburger said.

But the freeze will be selective, Shulenburger said. For instance, searches for permanent deans of the business, fine arts, graduate and law schools will continue.

Asked whether anyone's job at KU was in jeopardy because of the cuts, Shulenburger said, "Only people who don't have them now."

With the freeze in place, the university's deans and vice chancellors will be asked to make cuts within the schools and units under their direction.

The deans will return to Hemenway and Shulenburger with plans for cuts. Hemenway and Shulenburger will choose among the cuts, then take the revised budget plan to the Board of Regents for approval.

Regents Chairman William Docking said this procedure has been used in the past when budget cuts have been ordered.

Kim Wilcox, regents executive director, said he telephoned board members and university CEOs with news of the budget cut Wednesday morning after a meeting with Duane Goossen, state budget director.

The cut will amount to $6.5 million for the regents system, Wilcox said. Most of the money for the cuts will come from the state university campuses.

Community colleges, technical schools and colleges and Washburn University, all of which recently came under the oversight of the regents, also would see 1 percent of their state funding cut, Wilcox said.

Shulenburger said attrition may account for most of the cuts at KU.

The timing of the cut was beneficial, the provost said. For those on payroll, increases in pay cannot be taken back, he said. But, departments have not committed all their money, as they would have later in the year.

Hemenway on Wednesday praised Graves and criticized the Legislature.

"The governor is a fiscally responsible person," he said. "The state is facing a revenue shortage. I can understand why the governor has done this."

"It's an irony to be cutting budgets when the economy of the state is at its highest point and unemployment is at its lowest," Hemenway said. "And we haven't planned well enough to pay for education and other state services without budget cuts."

-- Erwin Seba's phone message number is 832-7145. His e-mail address is eseba@ljworld.com.

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