House Bill 319 calls for budget cuts in the 15 percent range for Alabama’s universities, while K-12 would be cut 2.5 percent and two-year colleges would be cut 4.6 percent. Trustees have asked that educational institutions be treated equitably during this economic downturn.
The UA System Board of Trustees Executive Committee recently met with its counterpart from Auburn in a historic joint session to begin the fight against House Bill 319. Representatives from both boards and more than two dozen members of the Alabama House and Senate attended and heard plans to take the call for equitable funding to the Legislature and work tirelessly for a compromise budget that treats all education entities evenly.
“We are the biggest economic engines in this state,” UA System President Pro Tem Joe Espy told the packed room. “We are prepared to take our pro rata share of the cuts, but these institutions absolutely cannot afford to take a step backward. We need the help of everyone in this room to be sure we are treated fairly.”
Several options for offsetting the budget decreases, including increased tuition and increased spending of university endowments, have been put forth by public policymakers, but education leaders say those are not viable.
Call to action
Campus leaders expect that Higher Education Day in Montgomery, which is set for Thursday, March 6, will be a highly effective forum for students, faculty, staff and alumni to deliver this message to lawmakers. At UAB, buses will transport participants to and from Montgomery, leaving the Hill University Center at 9 a.m. and returning about 3 p.m.
UAB President Carol Garrison encouraged faculty, staff, students, alumni and concerned state residents to contact their House and Senate members to request changes in House Bill 319 that treat higher education institutions fairly and equitably.
“Universities have helped this state’s economy grow and prosper,” Garrison said, “and in these times of economic downturn it is even more important that we remain strong. But that is possible only if we have the funding from our Legislature to maintain high-quality programs that are affordable to our state’s residents.”
To reserve your seat on the bus to Montgomery for Higher Education Day, call 934-8225 or sign up in HUC rooms 440 or 136. Breakfast, lunch and a free T-shirt will be provided.