Mesa State cuts coming during budget crisis

Mesa State College President Tim Foster received the bad news he expected.
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter recommended Friday that funding for Mesa State be cut by $923,000 this year, Foster said.

That announcement was part of Ritter’s recommendation that lawmakers cut $632 million from this fiscal year’s state budget, including $30 million slated for higher education.

Mesa State officials responded by announcing the college will cut approximately $750,000 in expenditures from this year’s budget, Foster said.

Mesa State has 5 1/2 months to make cuts because the 2008-09 fiscal year ends June 30.

Effects of the national economic slowdown started making their way into Foster’s office in the fall, so he was prepared for the announcement by Ritter.

“We’ve been operating conservatively since September,” Foster said. “You watch what’s happening.”

Layoffs are not expected to be part of the expenditure cuts, Foster said.

Capital improvement projects such as the Saunders Fieldhouse renovation and a new residence hall will be completed, he said.

Mesa State will not eliminate college majors to save money.

“We are doing nothing that impacts the classroom,” Foster said. “We have got to educate people.”

Instead, Mesa State will not fill open positions that Foster doesn’t think are necessary to operate. In addition, Mesa State will cut spending for supplies, printing, copying and travel, including travel for college officials and athletics teams, Foster said.

Next week, Foster has a meeting in Denver. He will carpool to the meeting with Mesa State trustees, he said.

“We’ve been sharing with the campus that this is coming,” Foster said of the $750,000 in budget cuts.

Additional cuts in Mesa State’s operating budget may be coming, Foster said. Lawmakers have yet to vote on Ritter’s recommendations.

The cuts Foster announced Friday are about 3 percent of the $24 million in state funding Mesa State is budgeted to receive this year.

State funding to the college is doled out on a monthly basis, Mesa State spokeswoman Dana Nunn said.

Mesa State’s total budget for 2008-09 is about $50 million, she added.


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