Budget cuts OK’d by Legislature

USU will face a 5 percent budget cut for the 2010-’11 school year, down from a possible 22 percent in total cuts. Two fiscal years ago, USU’s budget was cut 17 percent. Federal stimulus money was used to backfill 8 percent of this, so last year only 9 percent of the budget cuts were felt by USU students, faculty and staff.In the final day of the Utah Legislature’s 2010 general session, Thursday, March 11, legislators passed that 3 of the 8 percent will come from higher education funds, so USU will only have to address an additional 5 percent cut on top of the 9 percent taken last year.Michael Kennedy, special assistant to USU’s president for federal and state relations, said the new base budget will be 14 percent below the budget from fiscal year 2009, which was before the 17 percent cut took effect. It is still a cut, but the 8 percent was reduced to 5 by Thursday’s bill and no additional cuts were made.The fiscal year 2011 begins in July.Kennedy said that although the cuts will still impact the university, the news is good compared to the potential cuts that had previously been discussed during legislative sessions.”It’s an opportunity to try to soften the blow and in some ways maybe reinvest back into the university,” Kennedy said.ASUSU Executive Vice President Spencer Lee said he spoke to several legislators who appreciated the handwritten letters mailed to senators and representatives last week as part of his Write-a-Thon.Students wrote 170 letters telling about their experiences at and value of USU to impress upon legislators the importance of minimizing budget cuts. Lee said Rep. Fred Hunsaker, R-Logan, and Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, in particular passed along thanks to students who wrote the roughly 15 letters delivered to each of their homes.

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