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UH ohana doing its best to cope with budget cuts


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POSTED: Friday, October 02, 2009

None of us are responsible for the fact that the state of Hawaii has experienced severely restricted revenues this year and most likely into at least the next year.

Nevertheless, our level of state funding has been greatly reduced and we must find an unprecedented amount of savings to meet our budgetary needs.

On July 1, former University of Hawaii President David McClain wrote a letter to the UH ohana in which he laid out the basic problem:

“;As you know, the budget restrictions imposed by Gov. Linda Lingle on June 1 for the next two fiscal years coupled with the budget passed by the Legislature and signed into law earlier this week by the governor mean that we will have $76 million fewer general funds in fiscal year 2010 and $78 million fewer general funds in fiscal 2011. Were it not for the offset of $22 million in federal stimulus funds in each year, the general funds budget cuts would amount to $98 million and $100 million, with slightly less than half ($46 million) by the Legislature, and slightly more than half ($52 million and $54 million) coming from the governor's action in the wake of the May 28 Council of Revenues downgrade of its economic forecast.

“;This amount is more than 20 percent of the general funds received each year by UH, net of payments of such items as fringe benefits, interest payments on bond indebtedness and the like.”;

The situation remains essentially unchanged, with the unfortunate further news that the Council of Revenues has projected somewhat lower revenues in the latest forecasting. In the face of these newer projections, Gov. Lingle did make some further reductions to other state agencies but announced that she would not further restrict the University of Hawaii.

In addition, the stimulus funds designated for the university have not yet been released. Thus, while we expect to receive them and are planning accordingly, they are not yet available.

At the same time, the University of Hawaii system is facing a record increase in enrollment. More than 58,000 credit students are enrolled at our 10 campuses statewide. This is a welcome development, but it does present significant logistical and resource issues. Thus, the university must now make difficult decisions to get us through this set of circumstances.

In an effort to ensure that accurate information is provided about the university's plans, and its efforts to address the restrictions imposed on us, please read the questions and answers posted online at hawaii.edu/offices/op/ under “;Open Letter to the University,”; which also address some aspects of the administration's current proposal to UHPA (University of Hawaii Professional Assembly).

In these unprecedented times, I continue to believe that the university is, indeed, a powerful agent for economic improvement, educational advancement and cultural good.

I strongly support a competitive environment for faculty salaries and benefits; improved support for teaching, learning and research; and increased access for more students to succeed in our university.

I know our entire ohana believes in these objectives as well, and I urge us all to unify our voices so that we will be persuasive as our state leaders consider how to sustain and grow our university.

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Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood is president of the University of Hawaii system.