Lawmakers find another $83M for education

Posted June 11, 2010
Updated June 14, 2010

State budget

— State lawmakers have allocated an extra $83 million to education, which could lessen the severity of proposed cuts to the University of North Carolina system, UNC President Erskine Bowles said Friday.

The additional money for education was freed up by shifting money from other budget areas, such as Natural and Economic Resources, Justice and Public Safety and Health and Human Services, a spokesman for Speaker Joe Hackney said.

Bowles said he met with several key House members Thursday after a UNC Board of Governors meeting in which he sounded the warning bell over proposed cuts.

Last week, the House passed a spending plan that would cut the UNC system budget by $147 million in the 2010-11 school year, more than doubling the cuts planned by lawmakers when they passed the two-year state budget last summer.

Such cuts could cost the universities 1,700 positions, including hundreds of faculty jobs, and would prevent enrollment from growing by more than 1 percent at the system's 16 higher education campuses, Bowles said.

He said Friday that he was relieved after lawmakers told him that UNC would be given priority for funding as the House and Senate work out differences in their budgets.

"I remain concerned, but I am far, far more hopeful," he said. "It would be a shame to destroy the university and the academic portion of the university for what should be, hopefully, a short-term recessionary problem."

Rep. Ray Rapp, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said public schools and community colleges also would receive part of the additional education funding.

UNC President Erskine Bowles UNC system to get priority for extra money

Bowles also has asked lawmakers to give the UNC system the power to furlough workers so campuses can avoid layoffs. Furloughs could be used around holidays and would give chancellors an extra tool to minimize the effect of budget cuts on students, he said.

"We can save about $8 million a day with a furlough. That's a lot of money," he said.

Deric West, a rising junior at North Carolina Central University, said budget concerns on campus are so intense that teachers now talk about them in class.

"They tell us that they might be cutting the budget," West said. "I'm very concerned."

It's unclear whether lawmakers will approve the furlough authority, but Bowles said he believes House members will do away with a funding limit in the budget that would create an enrollment cap at UNC campuses.

Rapp said lawmakers never intended to limit the number of students the system could enroll.


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  • Dreamin of Disney World Jun 11, 2010

    Wished they'd find the funds to pay me my state tax return. Jeez...

  • WHEEL Jun 11, 2010

    The word from Raleigh is consistently that they have "cut to the bone" but they just happened to find $83 MILLION just lying around.

  • chfdcpt Jun 11, 2010

    So all the UNC alumni at the legislature can find extra money for the college system, but the public school kids have to face the cuts?

    Wake up folks. We cannot afford to keep sending these crooks back to the legislature and DC. There is only so much more that can be taxed.

  • Howie275 Jun 11, 2010

    I wish I could find that between my couch cushions.

  • Big Mike Jun 11, 2010

    I'm still confused about why we have one of the most successful so called EDUCATION lotteries in the nation, and still have to ask for monies to support our schools.......come on Beth......what are you all doing with this $$$$$$$ ?????????

    Don't make me vote against you an the others next time for lying to us.....?

  • USN Vet Jun 11, 2010

    It's a miracle. Lawmakers just happen to find $83M. I guess they found it while walking around outside after lunch or maybe during a bathroom break or maybe they just found it by sticking their hands in our pockets.

  • liskm Jun 11, 2010

    And the lower rung get furloughed and short changed again to make it all run smoothly for the upper rung?