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State's rainy-day funds should reduce cutbacks at FAU

Florida Atlantic University officials expect more budget cuts this year, but the cuts will not be as severe as expected because Gov. Charlie Crist dipped into the state's “rainy-day funds."

Crist transferred $672 million from the Budget Stabilization Fund to the General Revenue Fund, the source of FAU's general operating budget. This action is aimed at offsetting the $1.5 billion state deficit expected this fiscal year.

“This is going to make a big difference,” said Dorothy Russell, FAU's vice president of financial affairs and budget director. “We won't be cut as severely as anticipated.”

The exact numbers are still up in the air for 2008-09. The state's Revenue Estimating Conference will be held Nov. 10 to determine the funding for the General Revenue Fund. The best case scenario for FAU is a 4 percent decrease; the worst case is 10 percent.

“If the state does not recover its revenue base, we will undoubtedly be cut more,” Russell said. “The only upside is that we won't be hit as hard.”

FAU expected $12 million in cuts at the beginning of the fall term. The university put $4 million in reserves to help fund the general operating budget for 2008-09. Of the reserves, $2.4 million was from savings and $1.9 million was from unallocated funds.

“We thought it was prudent,” said Kenneth Jessell, vice president of financial affairs.

FAU experienced almost $19 million in cuts during 2007-08. So even with the state's relief and FAU's $4 million reserve fund. “Everyone is feeling the pinch equally right now,” Russell said.

Faculty members at FAU have not received a raise in two years, students no longer can use a credit card to pay for tuition without incurring a charge and the university has postponed some maintenance projects its campuses.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel regarding budget cuts? No yet, officials say.

“There is nothing to suggest that we will be receiving more funds from the state - just the opposite,” Russell said.




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State's rainy-day funds should reduce cutbacks at FAU