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McClain looks for union cue on UH cuts


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POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2009

University of Hawaii President David McClain says he is likely to ask UH administrators to take a pay cut to help deal with the budget crisis.

But McClain told the Board of Regents yesterday it's too early to say if other UH employees will be asked to take furloughs or if he will ask for other cuts from union employees.

McClain said he wants to see how the unions react to Gov. Linda Lingle's decision to furlough state employees for three days a month before deciding if furloughs will be part of the university's plan to cut its budget by about $100 million over the next two years.

The UH president said based on current enrollment trends, he expects a record enrollment of more than 60,000 students this fall, which will complicate budget-cutting decisions.

Enrollment at all UH campuses is up by about 28 percent over this time last year, McClain said. Most of the enrollment gain is in the community colleges.

The university has some reserve funds that can be tapped, but McClain said salaries will have to be part of any strategy to balance the budget.

The governor's recently announced $50 million-a-year restriction is on top of a $46 million reduction in state spending from the Legislature. The cut will be offset by $22 million in federal stimulus funds, but still totals about $75 million next year, McClain said. Tuition increases will add about $20 million, but about a third of that amount is already committed to faculty salaries and some of the rest will pay for increased financial aid to students.