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Regents Approve $1.9 Billion Budget Request

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New Funds Sought to Support Students, Meet State Workforce Needs

Atlanta — August 2, 2005

The University System of Georgia’s budget priorities for the next fiscal year were approved by the Board of Regents today at their regularly scheduled monthly meeting, one of the first major steps in USG officials’ preparation for the 2006 Legislative Session that begins in January.

The budget request was presented to the regents today by Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academics and Fiscal Affairs Daniel S. Papp, Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs William R. Bowes, and Vice Chancellor for Facilities Linda Daniels. Now it will be submitted to the state’s Office of Planning and Budget, where it will be evaluated against the needs and priorities of other state agencies.

If the $1.9 billion Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Request is fully supported by Governor Sonny Perdue and the State Legislature, the University System’s 250,000-plus students will be the ultimate beneficiaries of several proposed new programs. The budget represents a 4.6 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2006 state appropriations should all elements of the request be funded by the General Assembly.

The request includes dollars to accommodate enrollment growth in the System’s 34 institutions, improve graduation rates, and meet critical state workforce needs in the fields of healthcare and K-12 teacher education. The request also proposes funding for employee benefits-associated costs, to expand the accessibility of data on the University System, and to enhance the specialized missions of three University System institutions.

In addition to the operating budget request, the regents approved a capital budget request for new facilities totaling $417.9 million, and $68.2 million in funding to address needed maintenance and repair for the System’s existing infrastructure.

“This request better positions us to meet the rapidly increasing higher education needs of our students and the state,” said Meredith. “More importantly, it will allow us to begin tackling some of our key challenges, such as improving the retention and graduation rates of our students.”

A central component of the budget document is the $55 million requested to accommodate enrollment increases in the System, and to properly manage new facilities that have come on-line during the past fiscal year. “The bulk of these new dollars are generated by increased enrollment and go directly to the institutions to support the core mission of classroom instruction,” Bowes indicated. “These are essential funds that are critical to our daily operation.”

“Thanks to the support of the Governor and the General Assembly for our FY06 budget, we have been able to begin hiring much-needed, full-time faculty on our campuses,” said Meredith. “The requested $55 million in the FY07 budget will help us continue to rebuild our faculty ranks and serve the growing numbers of students we have enrolled in recent years.”

Under the category of “Budget Enhancements,” the regents are seeking $3.5 million in state funding to implement the recommendations of the University System’s Graduation Task Force and to develop best-practice programs on the campuses. Both efforts are aimed at increasing System-wide graduation rates though programs aimed at improving student advising, creating intervention initiatives for high-risk students, and establishing freshmen learning communities.

University System data indicates that 47 percent of first-time, full-time students who seek a bachelor’s degree earn one within six years at their original institution. This rate is 42nd in the nation, below the national average of 54 percent. “This graduation rate is unacceptably low,” said Papp.

“Our strategic goal with this proposed initiative is to raise the System’s graduation rates to at least the national average within five years.”

The FY ‘07 budget request also contain five other enhancements, including:

  • $3.5 million to expand nursing education and other healthcare programs with funds devoted to increasing the number of nurse educators and clinical training sites;
  • $3.5 million to expand teacher education programs at the System’s 15 Colleges of Education and to expand the Georgia Leadership Institute program. This effort aims to double the number of teachers, including minority teachers, prepared by the USG over the next five years;
  • $3.5 million for mission-related programs at Fort Valley State University ($1.5 million for the University’s federal land-grant match), Georgia College & State University ($1 million for its position as the state’s public liberal arts university) and the new state college in Gwinnett County ($1 million for start-up costs);
  • $2 million to continue work on the System’s “Data Warehouse,” an electronic collection of pertinent USG data that will be linked to other state data systems and made available to a wide variety of users; and
  • $3 million to fund technology equipment needs at the four research universities (Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Medical College of Georgia and the University of Georgia). State dollars would be matched by private support.

The Board of Regents’ FY ‘07 capital budget request includes:

  • $201 million in construction funding for the first eight projects on the “Major Capital Priority List;”
  • $19 million in design funding for projects 9 through 17 on the Major Capital Priority List;
  • $128 million for 30 minor capital projects (projects costing $5 million and under);
  • $38 million for a nanotechnology project at the Georgia Institute of Technology; and
  • $30.5 million for 22 Georgia Public Library projects.

The requested $68.2 million for the System’s Major Repair and Rehabilitation Funding program would be directed at structural stabilization, utility replacement and upgrade, general renovations, and regulatory projects such as life safety code issues.

After the governor makes his overall state budget recommendation to the General Assembly, that body will make the final determination on the USG’s FY ‘07 budget during its annual Legislative Session.

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