Legislature Sets Sights On Board Of Regents For Budget Ax

There were a flood of news stories last night on proposed cuts of programs offered within the University System Of Georgia. UGA and GA Tech were saying that they will have to cut enrollment by the thousands. UGA says it will end it’s “popular” 4-H extension program. (How long has it been since 4-H was popular? But I digress. That’s the elitist Atlanta snob in me talking.)

The stories have both a sense of PR defense and panic, but the Board Of Regents is also feeling the brunt of legislators who don’t feel like they’ve taken any actual steps to “share the pain”. One told me this week that while the amount of state funding to the BOR has been cut, the spending at the BOR has not. They’ve just passed the bill on to the students via higher tuition and fees.

While many here would say “Good. Let the user pay.”, the problem is that much of these tuition and fee hikes are funded via the hope scholarship and lottery revenues. With many believing lottery revenues have peaked, the situation must be addressed.

Thus, we are now set for one of the most inside baseball struggles of this political season. The Board Of Regents, by design, is one of the most autonomous and politically isolated vehicles of state government. Legislators, feeling the heat on cuts and fearing voter backlash, are demanding accountability and control.

If you’re board with shakedowns, stagnant polls, or retirements that set off political musical chairs, watch this one closely as it develops. It should be a facinating study for true inside baseball.

23 comments

  1. I was talking with a young man who is two semesters away from graduation at Souther Tech. He told me the school is telling students their tuition will increase 75% and many programs will be shut down. He’s not on Hope and worried he won’t be able to absorb the increase.

    This is going to be a real battle.

      • polisavvy says:

        Georgia is lucky in that it has some of the lowest tuition rates in the country. I would hate to see that change. There are people at the universities who are making ridiculous salaries and therefore I agree with you — cut the salaries. A 75% increase, like what the young man at Southern Tech was told, would be the end to many being able to attend and, in the end, Georgia would be the loser for it.

        • Republican Lady says:

          What is the salary range you are talking about? Is it the professors? The administration? I’m curious because my Ph.D. professors, when I got my master’s degree, were paying off $100,000 – $150,000 plus interest educational loans that have to be paid off in ten years, meaning roughly $1000 – $1500 a month payments. If they default on the loans, they lose their jobs.

          But I also feel for the students. Colleges and Universities need to look for more areas to cut expenses, like postponing new degree programs or new construction and do renovations (which will keep people like your husband employeed), or combine campuses, other areas that most of us don’t think about or we are unaware exist. Maybe students could apply for Stafford type loans or Pell Grants.

          One of the reasons for multiple campuses is to put education in different areas of the state to cut transportation costs for students wanting degrees but live at home. A graph needs to be done to see which is cheaper, closing outlying campuses versus student transportation and other related costs.

          Everyone falls somewhere on the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs scale and most of us are trying to satisfly level one, much less the other areas. We are having a hard time doing that, especially us older ones who have lost our savings, stocks, and bonds through illness or corrupt CEO’s raiding profits or stealing pensions.

          What is your opinion?

          • polisavvy says:

            I understand about graduate school and the costs associated therewith. I have a son who will be going to graduate school (law school). However, unless you come from a wealthy family you will incur student loans. They unfortunately are an necessary evil. Having said that, my intention was that a closer look be taken on the administrative level, not the professors. Think of how much some of the presidents and deans make at colleges. Should their salaries really be that high? And they all have a gazillion assistants, who have assistants? Is that really necessary?

              • polisavvy says:

                I don’t see how some professors survive on the salaries, to be quite frank. Those where my son went to college certainly didn’t live “high on the hog.” If I posted somewhere earlier that the salaries of professors should be cut, then I misspoke and for that I am sorry. I do think that on the administrative level there could be cuts made. Think of how much some of the presidents/chancellors make? Just my opinion.

                  • polisavvy says:

                    Agreed! Even though this is not an example of metro county heads, at one point, the former city manager here in Covington was the third highest paid city manager in the state. We’re talking Covington, not Atlanta or Macon, but dinky damn Covington. There is so much waste across the board and so many places to save (or cut).

                    • polisavvy says:

                      Yes, I am. I did already know that our former city manager was being way overpaid. It’s ridiculous. Some of the salaries are crazy!

                      These dumb city council people here in dinky Covington didn’t understand why there was such a public outcry because they wanted to take an $8,000 working retreat trip on our dime. We started complaining and guess what? No retreat. If they want to work, let them work at City Hall and camp in the park.

          • polisavvy says:

            As an aside, Pell Grants and Stafford loans are available to the students, provided their families fall into a certain income bracket. My poor kid has about $50,000 in student loans and law school still to come.

      • Chris says:

        That only drives the folks who can find new jobs (ie the better employees) and leaves the less desirable.

        You want to save the BOR from spending cuts, have the General Assembly transfer ownership of the GaTech and UGA trademarks from the Athletic Associations to their respective universities or to the BOR itself.

        • IndyInjun says:

          That only drives the folks who can find new jobs (ie the better employees) and leaves the less desirable.

          Good luck with that in this environment. Who wants to be a new hire with zero tenure when there every state and even private universities are hitting a brick wall in ability to fund salaries.

          Also, the math of pension plans is unrelenting. Jumping to a private school from a public one is dangerous, because the pensions are not a state liability protected from Bankruptcy by the state constitution.

          Cut the salaries.

          They won’t dare go nor will they be able to do so in any meaningful numbers.

  2. Lawton Sack says:

    Georgia Southern University’s President Brooks Keel put up a video response on YouTube. He went into detail about the impact of the cutbacks at Georgia Southern and the steps they had already taken for the previously announced cuts.

    Link:

  3. IndyInjun says:

    All redundancies need eliminating, like having 2 universities in the same medium-sized city.

    Then they need to cut salaries across the board.

    Where are they going to go in this environment? The only state on sound footing is North Dakota and it has a population less than Columbus.

    • TigerLily says:

      I watched the hearing. They didn’t say they were going to raise tuition 77%. There was a slide that showed how much tuition would cost at various percentage levels up to 77%. One of the committee members is pushing for a 35% increase.

  4. rosco says:

    Salaries have already been cut through furloughs. Unlike other state employees who at least get the day off on a furlough day, professors at USG schools are still required to teach or grade papers on furlough days. It is also worth pointing out that the idea that professors have cushy, well-paying jobs is a complete myth. I am a professor at a two year college in the USG. I teach five classes a semester. I have 150 students to keep up with, although our classes sizes have risen with enrollment increases. I teach summers and typically work 50 hour work weeks or more. I make less than a high school teacher and have a Ph.D. My situation is typically for most professors at two year and four year colleges within the USG.
    I honestly doubt that most of the people who complain about salaries are really informed about what goes on in higher education.

    I don’t mind further furloughs and some cuts as we do live in tough times. But the current proposed cuts to the USG would absolutely decimate higher education in Georgia for years to come. They would also have very negative impact on Georgia’s economy. The cuts to Georgia Tech alone would result in $200-$400 million in losses to the economy, possibly more than the “savings” the cuts would bring to the state themselves. I guess we will see if our political leaders are short sighted enough to cripple the USG and further damage our economy. If Republican leaders are so stupid that they actually go through with cuts of this magnitude, they could find themselves subjects of serious “cuts” come November.

    • IndyInjun says:

      Everyone in this economy is going to have to tighten their belts.

      No exceptions.

      I don’t know whether you have noticed, but the unemployment rate for U6 is over 16%.

      People in just about every sector of private employment, small business, and manufacturing have been severely hurt and are in no position to support a government that was already oversized versus the economy and now is about to topple the economy as it has grown as the economy shrank.

      Real estate and 401k’s have taken a hit. Savers incomes have been cut 50%.

      Savers incomes have been cut 50%, yet you guys think you are immune.

      There will be an uprising if your way prevails.

  5. rosco says:

    IndyInjun,

    I didn’t say we in higher education are immune from cuts. I mentioned that we’ve already had them and we did expect more. My small paycheck has taken a hit as my workload has increased. That’s fine. I can accept it as times as hard.

    However, think of it this way, our equivalent of “customers” are college students. Our number of customers (enrollment) has exploded in recent years. Yet our funding to meet our customers needs has been cut. Now the legislature is threatening to drastically cut it. What happens in the business world when operational costs are drastically cut at a time when the business takes on many more customers? The quality of the product inevitable declines. And employees that are able to leave the organization will do so as soon as it becomes possible. The same thing will happen to USG schools if the cuts are too deep. The current proposed cuts would dramatically affect quality.

    So the question is, are you willing to make these cuts at the expense of quality? And are you willing to see a less educated Georgia? Do you really think that would attract good companies with high paying jobs to Georgia? I think it would not. Hell, Georgia Tech alone estimates that the cuts in its research would cost Georgia’s economy between $200-$400 million. Cuts to the USG are necessary. But the draconian ones currently on the table would cripple USG institutions to the point that they can only be seen as are anti-business.

    Oh, and why does some in the legislature want the USG to bear about 30% of the cuts when the USG only amounts to 12% of the state budget? And why does Sonny get to waste money on a horse farm? Something is fishy, or rather porky, in all this.

  6. soldiermedic says:

    what about all the saleries that they pay the athletic director and all the sports coaches how about cutting the saleries there

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