As you may know, the State of Florida legislature has agreed on the fiscal year 2009-2010 budget. The document, 408 pages, was printed Monday night and was first available online yesterday morning. We are still analyzing the detail of the proviso and implementing language. However, I wanted to share with you our preliminary assessment of the likely impact to UWF.
First, let me say that we appreciate that the Legislature recognized the value of higher education during their budget negotiations. Our recurring general revenue budget cut was not as draconian as first proposed (24 percent), and was not as severe as many other agencies of the state. University employees were also spared from the salary reductions that many other state employees will absorb. This signals the importance that Tallahassee places on higher education and bodes well for our future.
Nevertheless, at the University of West Florida our recurring general revenue was cut by approximately 13.85 percent. The legislature filled this gap with an 8 percent tuition increase and also provided local authority for our Board of Trustees to raise tuition up to an additional 7 percent. At present, we believe that Tallahassee's estimate of the amount of money this will raise is higher than the actual amount we will generate. Our Board of Trustees will make the decision about the appropriate tuition rates at their June 2 meeting. In preparation, I have assembled a UWF tuition team to provide information to me so that I can suggest appropriate scenarios to the trustees.
The legislature also appropriated non-recurring federal stimulus dollars to assist state universities in dealing with the 13.85 percent reduction in recurring general revenue. For UWF that amounts to $4.5 million. It is important to note, however, that these are one-time, non-recurring funds, and while some federal stimulus funding may also be available one final time next year, we do not know the amount, and so we will have to be very prudent and thoughtful in allocation.
I think we have reason to feel heartened that salaries were spared and our budget reductions were not as drastic as many others. However, we must continue to plan for budget reductions for fiscal year 2009-2010. Our strategic plan will continue to guide our actions. Our final reduction amounts will not be known until after the governor signs the budget in late May and our Board of Trustees makes a decision about tuition at their June 2 meeting.
Thank you all for your patience and support during this ever changing time.