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Governor's Budget and TBR Budget Process


Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

As I indicated in previous e-mails, I will keep you informed as the budget process for the State of Tennessee and higher education unfolds. Governor Bredesen presented his proposed budget to the General Assembly on Monday night, which included the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds.  Since that time, there has been some media coverage of parts of the budget, a conference call with Chancellor Manning of the Tennessee Board of Regents, and a campus review of the budget.

In the media, an article in the Commercial Appeal caused several of you to contact my office with questions. The article was on the front page with the title, “Budget could give $81M to UT Memphis.” Further into the article, and upon closer reading, this is not the case. The funds are not appropriations from the State given to UT Health Sciences, but they are a part of the “disclosure” section. Required for “disclosure” in the budget are funds raised privately, or by bonded indebtedness.  

Similarly, the University of Memphis had disclosed (not funded by State) the cost of construction of the replacement for West Hall and completing construction of the University Center.  In addition, private donors to the Athletic Department have funded facilities improvements for the football weight room and a tennis center. We also have funds from federal sources for improvements in traffic and circulation. This section of the budget document contains the “disclosed” items, which are not a part of the funds that will be appropriated from the State of Tennessee.

As a part of the budget interpretation, I am taking the liberty of sending you some excerpts from the March 23rd memorandum from Richard Rhoda, Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “The Governor proposes to use funds from the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to supplement higher education operating support for the next two years.”  This in essence brings colleges and universities back up to the 2007-8 levels; however, the restored funds are non-recurring and will go away after the stimulus dollars go away. According to Commissioner of Finance, Dave Goetz, “Higher education must use these non-recurring funds for general and education purposes and to restrain student tuition and fee increases over the next two years.”  We do not yet know the tuition rate, which will be set by the Tennessee Board of Regents in June.

In the conference call with Chancellor Manning on Wednesday morning, we were told that we will be asked for a 3-year budget, which will include the non-recurring ARRA funds for two years and a budget after the federal ARRA funds go away.  We will receive further guidance for this expanded budget preparation from Chancellor Manning and from Dale Sims, the TBR Interim Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance.  As soon as we have the budget guidance letter, the Provost and the Vice Presidents will have meetings with their units to review the plans.  We also will meet with representatives from the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and Student Government Association to engage them in the budget review.

We are grateful for the assistance being provided from the ARRA, even though the funds are not permanent.

Thank you for your patience, your involvement and your continuing efforts to grow our revenues and control our costs.  I will continue to write you periodically for an update on this unfolding budget process.

We remain committed to our students to help them achieve their educational goals and to the dedicated faculty and staff who support them.

Sincerely,

Shirley C. Raines, President

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