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Bad News Bob


U of M budget: Tuition stable, staff layoffs looming

by Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio

Good news for students who would see minimal tuition increases. Bad news for staff, who are facing job cuts.

Next year, the most they'll see tuition go up is 3 percent, or about $300.

University of Minnesota president Robert Bruininks says for many students and their families, the news is even better. "Very few of them will see any increase, and the increases they do see will be relatively modest," said Bruininks.

Sixty percent of students who pay in-state tuition will see their bills go down next year. That includes a 5 percent tuition cut for students of families who make around $90,000 a year, and a 20 percent cut for students of families making around $50,000.

Here's the bad news. Because the university's state funding will be cut an estimated $177 million in the next two years, school officials must reduce spending -- and that will translate into job cuts and layoffs.

In the next year alone, the university will need to make $95 million in internal cuts. In Bruinink's new budget, that includes eliminating 1,240 University jobs.

"Asking the people who remain to take salary and wage freezes, as we are doing all across the state of Minnesota, is a sacrifice that is needed right now -- and one that our people will support."

Those 1,240 jobs will included faculty, administration and staff. Bruininks says many of the cuts will come through early retirement or by not filling open positions. But he acknowledges there will be at least 400 layoffs.

"Clerical workers are terrified that they're going to lose their jobs," said Phyllis Walker, president of the clerical workers union at the U of M.

"They know that in this economic climate, if they lose their job here, it will be difficult to find another job somewhere else," she said.

University officials will host a public forum next week to discuss the upcoming budget. The Board of Regents will vote on the budget proposal June 24.

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