- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents has approved a $20 million budget-reduction plan that includes early retirement buyouts for eligible faculty and staff.

The regents approved the plan Thursday from OU President David Boren. He said the cuts are needed as the state faces an approximate $1 billion budget shortfall for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“We could wait until June to address the problem, but we know it is coming,” Boren told the regents Thursday. “We could wait and then frantically try to decide how to address the shortfalls. But I believe in the old Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.”

Under the plan, about $10 million will be saved through the early retirement incentive for about 400 eligible faculty and staff members. Another $10 million will be saved by eliminating vacant positions and making cuts to department budgets, including decreases in purchasing and travel.

Under the early retirement plan, eligible employees will receive a lump sum payment that’s equal to 75 percent of their annual base salary, not to exceed $100,000. The employees will also receive subsidized health insurance.

Boren said he has weathered several budget crises in his years as a politician and OU president, but he said this year’s may be one of the worst.

“I’m absolutely determined to be prepared. And what I want to say to faculty and staff is that we have to do this. There’s no magic tricks. We’re trying to do the least harm,” Boren said.

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