Monday, February 10, 2003

Universities look for backup funding

Dollars hang on Taft's plan

By Liz Sidoti
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Colleges and universities are examining ways to absorb - and not pass on to students in the form of midyear tuition increases - the $40 million budget cut Gov. Bob Taft is threatening should the Legislature rebuff his plan to raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.

"We're sort of scrambling to figure out how we can take this hit so late in the year," said Terry Ondreyka, Youngstown State University's vice president for financial affairs. His school would lose $1.1 million if cut.

Basic funding for the state's 23 colleges, 13 universities and two medical schools was exempt from Taft's last round of budget cuts, but he says he will cut it by 2.5 percent if lawmakers don't approve his tax package to fill a $720 million hole in the state budget.

Taft is scheduled to explain his tax proposal to trustees from public and private colleges and universities Tuesday in Columbus.

The schools say they will try first to cut administrative areas to make up money they would lose. If unsuccessful, they say they will have to look at campus-wide solutions - such as layoffs.

"The intent is to cut those areas that are not going to remove services or programs for students," said Greg Hand, a spokesman at the University of Cincinnati, which would lose $3.7 million.

Schools on quarters, such as UC, could boost fees for the spring quarter as a last resort. Those on semesters say they would be forced to make deep cuts because it's too late to raise tuition midyear. "The bills have already gone out for this semester. So, every line item will be looked at to cut," said Holly Wissing, spokeswoman for Miami University, which stands to lose about $2 million.

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