Governor Daniels Cuts Higher Education Funding by $150 Million

By Brien McElhatten

June 18, 2010 Updated Dec 4, 2009 at 11:13 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - It seems Indiana's seven public colleges and universities will have to do more with even less.

A budget shortfall caused by lower than anticipated tax revenues is forcing Governor Mitch Daniels to cut spending, with higher education taking a $150 million hit.

"We are taking steps to offset shortfalls as they occur," explained Daniels in a new release. "Unwelcome as these actions are, we will do what's necessary to protect Indiana taxpayers from the tax hikes being imposed in other states."

The reductions in higher education spending will not increase tuition for state schools because rates have already been approved until 2011, but school officials say other cuts may be necessary.

School administrators in Fort Wayne kept their attention on Friday's announcement, although they say they've been planning for this event for several months.

"At this point, we may not have certain celebrations, we may not have as many supplies as we'd like to have, " IPFW Chancellor Michael Wartell told Indiana's NewsCenter. "Our classes may get larger, but I don't think people are going to lose their jobs in this situation at IPFW."

Across the street at the northeast campus of Ivy Tech Community College Chancellor Russell Baker sits at his desk explaining steps his school is taking in response to the cuts.

"We're limiting out of state travel. Also, if a position becomes vacant due to a resignation we don't automatically post it and fill it. Some positions are being consolidated, others aren't being filled," said Baker. "We have almost 3,000 more students this semester than we did one year ago and now our budget is being cut, it's certainly a challenge."

Each of the state's seven public colleges and universities have yet know how much their budgets will be cut.The state Commission on Higher Education will sort that out next week.

Officials say the cuts reflect six percent of state general fund support for higher education.

Daniels is also suspending a $15 bi-weekly matching contribution to state employees for deferred compensation retirement accounts for calendar year 2010. Take home vehicles will be reduced and Daniels plans to ask the legislature to combine the Public Employees Retirement Fund and the Teacher's Retirement Fund. A move that could save the state at least $50 million.

Daniel's has hinted that more cuts could come if revenue continues to come in below projections.

Indiana tax revenues for November fell short of projections by $144 million, making November the 14th consecutive month of below forecast receipts.

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