Bare-bones budget scenarios in Austin augur as many as 800 layoffs across Texas Tech’s three-school system, according to the first estimates presented Thursday to the university’s governing board.
Tech’s Board of Regents heard the sobering outlook from administrators who reminded the board these early estimates reflect a worst-case scenario based on state higher education cuts proposed by the Texas House, where lawmakers face a tax revenue shortfall of as much as $30 billion.
A budget floated by the Texas Senate offers Tech and other state universities a slight reprieve that would reduce the system’s job loss to roughly 475.
The 800 layoffs expected from the House budget would equate to slightly more than 4 percent of the Tech system’s 18,000-plus employees.
“None of this is final yet, so we will be presenting extremes,” Jim Brunjes, the system’s chief financial officer, told the board.
Tech officials said more accurate numbers will only follow this summer’s passage of a budget now being reconciled between the two chambers.
Altogether, the system stands to lose $100 million in the current fiscal crunch, according to Tech Chancellor Kent Hance.
During his overview of Tech’s money woes, a regent noted a lack of black numbers shown in a slide presentation.
“All the black ink is gone,” Hance replied. “It’s all red, which is the color of blood.”
Administrators calculated their layoff estimates by plugging likely financial reductions yoked to the next biennium’s budget into each institution and equating those dollars to salaries, so they fail to reflect wiggle room afforded through non-personnel cuts.
Expected tuition increases of up to 6 percent and enrollment growth could also cushion Austin’s hatchet blow.
“We’d be in deep trouble if we didn’t have growth in enrollment,” Hance told the board.
The chancellor said he expects actual systemwide layoffs to range from 200 to 400 employees.
Many of the layoffs would occur at Tech’s flagship campus in Lubbock, where the worst-case window ranges anywhere from 187 lost jobs from the Senate budget to 243 from the House version. These estimates include the roughly 105 positions already cut or frozen in an early round of belt-tightening that siphoned some $16 million from school coffers.
“We plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Tech President Guy Bailey, “and usually it comes out in between.”
He said “a lot of the hard decisions have already been made” through recent administrative realignments, closures and near-universal hiring freezes.
Further cuts will first target personnel on the furthest periphery of academics and direct student support services. The goal, Bailey said, is to shield the university from any measures that would “impede the timely graduation of students.”
At a time of successive record enrollments, that means Bailey hopes to retain as many faculty, advisers and other retention-related jobs as possible.
System administrative offices — whose funding is zeroed out in the House budget — also expect to cut as many as 37 jobs.
Across the freeway and elsewhere throughout the region, estimates for the hardest blow to Tech’s Health Sciences Center put layoff estimates between 436 and 508.
Angelo State University could cut between 22 and 28 people.
Any layoffs at the three schools would likely begin at the start of the next fiscal year in September.
Board committees also approved a variety of other measures that today will go to the full board for final approval, which is all but guaranteed:
n Tuition and fee increases for students at each of the HSC’s member schools. The average student can expect tuition to increase by about 7 percent.
n Switching faculty/staff parking permits to a tagless license plate identification system
n Increases of Tech parking fees by up to $3.88/month for students and $1/month for faculty. Revenue is slated to pay for more campus parking.
n An early agreement to consider opening a nursing school satellite campus in Abilene.
n Agreement with RaiderPark to lease game-day and student parking at the company’s private parking garage adjacent to Jones AT&T Stadium.
n Creation of a conservation law enforcement degree program in Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources.
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