Date: March 29, 2010
Contact: Kristeen Hanselman, Associate Executive Director, (808) 593-2157
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
University of Hawaii Professional Assembly: Legislators’ Attack on UH Budget Shows Disrespect for Local Students
A legislative bill (S.B. 2695, S.D.1, H.D.1) to divert $59 million earmarked for the University of Hawaii to help offset the state’s budget shortfall reveals the short-sightedness of our elected officials, and this will have grave implications for Hawaii’s students, said J.N. Musto, UHPA’s executive director.
“The golden goose is being put on the chopping block,” Musto said. “Generating revenue for the state has now become a bane for the UH, with funds set aside to build and maintain a strong research and educational institution under attack once again.”
Monies that provide overhead support for research are being cut, even though these funds come from non-state revenues such as federal and private grants. Taking these funds means less money will be provided by the funding agencies. Hawaii does not fund research from the state’s general operating budget and, in fact, all research is self-funded with a portion used for operational support.
The UH budget was reduced by $98 million last year with another $100 reduction for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2010. A House bill (H.B. 2200, H.D. 1) called for an additional $10 million cut and this Senate bill (S.B. 2695, S.D.1, H.D.1), to be heard by the House Finance Committee this evening, seeks an additional $59 million cuts, including $20 million from the Tuition and Fees Special Fund.
This special fund is used for academic counseling and programs for students, which is especially important as student enrollment continues to increase within the UH system. In addition, 15 percent of the fund – or $3 million – is set aside for student financial aid. Using this fund to help balance the state’s budget undermines the quality of education and the ability of Hawaii’s neediest students to enroll in the UH system, Musto said.
With this special fund being raided, tuition hikes may also be a likely result to make up for the shortfall that would be created in the middle of the UH fiscal year, and students would have the most to lose. “We can look to the experiences of universities on the Mainland such as University of California, and can expect riots and protests by students here in Hawaii,” Musto said. “The UH system is the main pathway for local students after high school, and this robs them of affordable job training and a higher education. At a time of record-high enrollment and many returning to school to learn new skills, this is unconscionable.”
“This bill sends a clear message from our legislators to Hawaii’s people: Public higher education is not a priority in our state,” Musto said. “All of us will ultimately pay for this with a workforce that is ill prepared for economic recovery.”
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About the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA)
The UHPA has been the exclusive bargaining agent for all faculty members of the University of Hawaii system since November 1, 1974. The UH System is governed by one Board of Regents and includes seven Community Colleges, UH-Hilo, UH-Manoa, and UH-West Oahu. The UHPA is the elected faculty union as set forth in Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 89.