The state is facing a budget shortfall of up to $30 billion, and the repercussions for the University will be dire.
The Faculty Senate has already been told to expect a 10 percent cut in state funding, but the cut could be as deep as 20 percent.
Because the budget deficit won’t be officially announced until next year, the Senate is focused on making sure it isn’t caught off guard.
“Unfortunately, it does appear that on the larger end of the cuts we’re looking at cutting operations that impact faculty directly,” Senate president Mark Clarke said. “It’s making everybody a little nervous.”
Vice President of Administration and Finance Carl Carlucci spoke about the deficit, giving specific examples on what may or may not happen come next year. More faculty furloughs were among the topics discussed.
“As a result of conversations with the staff council, they said let’s lock in dates now. They said they’d rather know when the dates for possible furloughs would be,” Carlucci said. “There were a number of suggestions made as to possible dates.”
However, more furloughs are not being considered lightly; the last thing the Senate wants to do is impact the education of the students, Carlucci said.
“We can’t cripple the instructional program,” he said. “Tuition revenue is our main support. We cannot do anything to reduce that.
“On the other hand, there are periods like spring break where we as a staff won’t get any official days off, but if we took days off it wouldn’t negatively impact the instructional program.”
One of the biggest problems with the budget deficit is the Texas Legislature itself.
Because this is a huge session for the Legislature — it not only has to cut billions of dollars from the state budget but redistrict the entire state as well — the cuts may not be announced until late spring or even the summer.
“The budget is likely to drag on; it’ll probably get done by August 1, because that’s when the school districts need their money,” Carlucci said. “It’s very likely to drag on through May into the summer.
“How do we know what the target’s going to be if there’s uncertainty? And the answer is, we don’t know.”