- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Members of the Tennessee Board of Regents said Friday that they don’t know how much money the state’s universities and community colleges are going to receive in the budget because of a shortfall in tax collections.

The board oversees six state universities, 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology. The schools do not include the University of Tennessee system.

Officials said at a quarterly board meeting Friday that the best case scenario for the schools would be to get the almost $6.6 million Gov. Bill Haslam allocated to them in his budget. Figures presented at the meeting showed that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission recommended that the schools get a little more than $21 million in the budget.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told reporters Thursday that planned pay raises for state employees and investment in higher education might have to be cut because of a $260 million shortfall of projected revenue through the first seven months of the budget. Haslam is expected to release a revised spending proposal next week that would address the shortfall.

Traditionally, public colleges and universities raise tuition when they get less money in the budget.

Haslam acknowledged the funding challenge after a higher education summit Thursday that was organized by the Nashville Business Roundtable. The governor said he was trying to “prioritize higher ed funding.” But he also said that the state has to live within the limits of the funds that it has, even though the funding levels for higher education isn’t where he would like it to be.

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