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Budget Cuts for TAMIU

By Mark A. Nix
On January 31, 2011

  • Budget Cuts
  • Vice President of Finance and Administration. Mark Nix

     When the term "Budget Cuts" is heard, the thought immediately turns to loss. Whether it's the loss of a job, loss of resources, or even a loss of things we've grown used to having, these losses seem to invade our mind with uncertainty and doubt. Here at Texas A&M International University, we are being faced with a tough challenge ahead. Budget cuts for TAMIU are looking like they are going to make themselves felt on our university. However, it is not exactly clear how much a budget cut TAMIU will be getting., Juan J. Castillo, Vice President for Finance and Administration for TAMIU, discussed information about the budget cuts TAMIU is about to face.

            While there is no set budget cut yet for TAMIU, there are some speculations as to what it might be. The Laredo Morning Times reported in their Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 edition, that 18% or $12.8 million in state funding would be cut from TAMIU's budget. However, what LMT reported was not exactly the case. As of right now, according to Castillo, the 18% in state funding was the House of Representatives proposal. However, the 18% included Tuition Revenue Bonds (TRB), which are funding for the majority of TAMIU's buildings; the state gives TAMIU the money to pay off these bonds. This system has always been present and does not look like it is going to change. So with this concept unchanged, the 18% becomes different. Due to the fact, that the TRB's have no effect on TAMIU's budget. The amount that will be cut in the House is 11 million, but that is actually 22% of the budget. When the Tuition Revenue Bond debt service is included in the budget, then do we get that 18% or $12.8 million. However the problem with this figure is that the TRB's are getting lower because our buildings at TAMIU are getting older and TAMIU is able to pay them off. So with the TRB's taken out we are able to compare apples to apples and gain a real picture of where TAMIU will be at.

Despite the fact that the TRB debt service is being reduced TAMIU is still not in the clear. According to Castillo, the House version of the proposed budget cut is $11.2 million or 22.2% and the Senate version of the proposed budget cut is $9.8 million or 20% of the total budget. During the interview, Castillo gave an estimated range as to how much of a cut TAMIU will be receiving. He is quoted as saying  "So right now as it stands between the two, and again it could go, just because this is the first version, doesn't meant it'll only get better. It could in theory get worse, but if we say that these are the parameters we would be looking at 9.8 to 11.2 million cut." 

All of these compared without Tuition Revenue Bond debt service. However, this still being the first version there is still a sense of uncertainty as to how positive or negative the budget cut will be. Laredo Morning Times reported "Because special item funding for higher education would be cut by $254 million, officials said about 35 full-time faculty members would have to be laid off."

            What LMT reported, in its January 23, 2011 edition, made it confusing for some readers; TAMIU does not have $254 million dollars in its entire budget. The special item funding cut refers to the entire state. The state is basically cutting special item funding by 25% and TAMIU's total special items are $11.7 million a year. So 25% of $11.7 million is what is being cut. Institutional Enhancement is one of the special items, which refers to the laying off of 35 full-time faculty members; this special item is what covers the salaries for full-time faculty members.

Castillo responds to this by saying "When Dr. Keck gave that interview, what he was saying was if we have to cut Institutional Enhancement, which only covers faculty salaries. In theory, then, it would equate to 35 faculty positions." 

He continues by saying, "Now there's a lot wrong with that I mean because we're dealing with just generalities number 1 and number 2, we're dealing with averages."

Castillo continues to ensure that the special item funding, Institutional Enhancement, is not the only source of funding for faculty salaries. He goes on to say that if it were to be cut, they would shuffle faculty around to other funding sources. He continues by saying that it would not necessarily be 35 and it would also not necessarily be faculty. While things are still unclear, Castillo assures that if things come to cuts to balance the budget, then it will not be exclusively faculty. It could come from staff faculty and support, administrators, and general operating functions. As of right now, the departments were set, right before Christmas, to prepare for a 15% budget cut. The departments are looking to see what could be cut and their final report will be due February 4, 2011. When the departments give their final report, positions may be cut without having a body in them.

            However, this just means that there may or may not be course available to students if such severe budget cuts are to be made. The Vice President of Finance and Administration assures that if budget cuts do affect the university, they will try and make less of an impact on the students. However, the students can rest assure that tuition will not be raised, because it has already been set for the fiscal year (fall 2011-Spring and summer of 2012). However, Financial Aid will be affected by the budget cuts.

            Laredo Morning Times reported in its January 23, 2011 edition "The number of students statewide receiving TEXAS grants will drop from about 86,830 to 50,495 in 2012 and then dip in 2013 to 27,135. Only renewals would be allowed." In this case, only the ones, who already received the grant, would be receiving it again the next time they apply for a renewal. Programs here at TAMIU will feel the budget cut depending on where they get their funding from.

            All in all, the outlook for TAMIU is still unclear. All of what Juan Castillo, Vice President of Finance and Administration, divulged with The Bridge were different plans of action and how the university would handle the problem of budget cuts. TAMIU is not the only place feeling the pending budget cuts. LISD and UISD are both going to feel a heavy effect from the impending budget cuts. With these budget cuts, it seems as though the economic challenges, which began at the national level, have worked its way down to the local level. Reminding us all that the economy is still in bad shape and it's now making itself felt through all levels of government.

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