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Portch Presents FY 2000 Budget to Joint Appropriations Committee

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Atlanta — January 19, 1999

University System Chancellor Stephen R. Portch returned to his roots as a college professor today, and used a “quiz” to help present Gov. Roy Barnes’ proposed FY 2000 Budget to the General Assembly’s Joint Appropriations Committee. Well received by the legislators, the 13 question exam presented a wide range of data highlighting the System’s achievements and future challenges.

Portch provided the details of the $1.6 billion budget recommended for the University System of Georgia by Gov. Barnes, a budget that includes a $35 million appropriation for formula-related enhancements that include accommodating projected System growth.

In addition, the governor has recommended a $40 million appropriation to cover a 4 percent merit-based salary increase for system employees. The Board of Regents requested that the governor continue to support competitive salaries for the University System in order to maintain competitiveness at the national level, an effort that has helped moved the System near the top of the South during the past four years.

Teacher preparation, engineering education and economic development also were major elements of the budget proposal – all key initiatives that are closely aligned with the governor’s goals for the state. Portch explained the four components of the $4 million teacher preparation initiative, which includes a mandate that all early childhood education majors minor in reading and mathematics, and which promises to bring attention to the issue of out-of-field teaching and its impact on student success.

Portch also outlined the Board of Regents Regional Engineering Program, for which Gov. Barnes has recommended $2 million in new funding. That program would expand engineering education throughout the state by providing three new undergraduate and three new graduate-level engineering programs, primarily through the use of the distance learning technology.

The governor’s major new economic development initiative, The Yamacraw Mission, also provided an $11.5 million appropriation that will be used to hire faculty and researchers to strengthen Georgia’s role in the high-bandwith telecommunications and chip design sector. Over the next five years, it will enable the hiring of more than 80 University System faculty to help spur this new economic development thrust.

“The University System is extremely grateful for the recommendations that Gov. Barnes has proposed for us, in this his first full budget cycle,” Portch stated. “We are pleased that several of our priorities and special initiatives are so closely connected to his vision for the state, and we look forward to playing a vital role in helping him to achieve his agenda.”

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