Concerns about the upcoming finalization of the Utah Legislature’s higher education budget dominated ASUSU’s Executive Council meeting Tuesday. Executive Vice President Spencer Lee said things have taken a turn for the worse in the last several days, and students are likely to feel budget cuts much more severely than was previously expected. Although the final budget will probably not be as severe as the 22 percent cut USU President Stan Albrecht had projected as a worst-case scenario, Lee said the university could see about 19 percent. “It’s looking bleak, very negative,” Lee said. A couple of weeks ago, Lee had reported encouraging figures from Legislature, but it has since been decided that a portion of the Rainy Day Fund will not be allocated to backfill 8 percent of existing budget cuts. The 8 percent is part of 17 percent already cut, but was cushioned last year by federal stimulus money, Lee said. Now, the Legislature is discussing an additional 2 or 3 percent on top of the existing 17 percent, only 9 percent of which the university has already addressed. Lee said it will translate to a loss of 80-90 faculty in addition to the 57 lost in addressing previous cuts. Lee said although he’s been pushing the issue all year, the severity of the issue is at a peak. Final budget numbers are expected to be reported in about one week.
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