4% budget cuts

WSC to see mid-year reductions


Elizabeth Wallace

Vice President of Administration and Finance Angela Fredrickson presents the current budget situation at an open forum held in the Frey Conference Suite last Friday at 2 p.m. to a large audience of faculty and staf. President Marysz Rames also spoke at the forum, providing her plan for dealing with the budget cuts proposed by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Nathan Pearson and Derek Pufahl

At an open forum on Friday at 2 p.m. in the Frey Conference Suite, Vice President of Administration and Finance Angela Fredrickson and Wayne State College President Marysz Rames provided information to faculty and staff concerning the college’s plan for coping with Gov. Pete Rickett’s proposed four percent budget cut for the Nebraska State College System (NSCS).
The cut is part of a larger plan to make budget adjustments for state agency operations to make up for a gap in the state budget. The plan would call for four percent cut to the college’s budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. For the 2017-18 fiscal year, the budget will return to its original base, then take a 1.43 percent cut for that fiscal year. The budget will return to its original base again for the 2018-19 fiscal year and then receive a 1.64 percent increase.
This plan will be a permanent reduction in the WSC budget, since state appropriations for the college will not increase with the rising costs of the college’s core needs during this time, setting the college back by three years.
WSC’s core needs include salaries, utilities, accreditation requirements, as well as health insurance, which Rames said may see an increase as much as eight percent next year. These needs are always increasing.
Rickett’s proposed cuts must still pass through state legislation, but Wayne State administration is preparing for what is expected to come.
Proposals by the governor often are approved. However, Director of College Relations Jay Collier said that it is possible that the legislation may not approve of the proposed budget cuts as they are.
“The governor has made some very targeted reductions to certain agencies, so the legislature may take a look at this more closely before approval,” Collier said.
Rames assured that the college is doing everything possible to handle the cuts.
“We originally held back one percent from our budget to help make up for the cut,” President Marysz Rames said.
WSC administration will also use its “salary salvage” system to help make up for the other three percent in the budget cut. This works by taking the salary of faculty and staff who have retired or resigned and using it to cover expenses. This is the one-time expenditure that usually goes toward updating anything used by students, such as computer labs.
Rames is also creating a Budget Advisory Task Force, which will consist of deans, faculty, staff, students and ex-officio members to provide resources.
“The task force will take a look at our options and make recommendations for spending cuts,” Rames said. “The task force will also hear recommendations from other administration staff. Any faculty or staff can make recommendations to the task force.”
If anyone is interested in making recommendations, there is a form available on eCampus.
“We want to focus on operating costs, travel costs and supplies in our budget,” Rames said.
For right now it is not clear how much of an impact the cut might have on student activities and programs. That will be up to the task force to determine.
“In this economic climate it is important that we start planning early,” Rames said. “It is very important that we come together as a community and plan for our budget.”
It is not known whether the NSCS office in Lincoln will make cuts as well. The WSC administration has not been informed of this.
Collier said that around 2009 there was a round of budget cuts that the NSCS went through and at that time, he said the system office did make cuts to its budget as well.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Rames said.