- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - University of Alaska regents have voted to request $395.8 million in state funding from the Legislature next session, about $22 million than what it received this fiscal year, despite warnings that spending is likely to be tight.

At a regents meeting Wednesday, university President Patrick Gamble was not optimistic about obtaining funding that would maintain the current level of spending, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. Actual funding could require a third year of serious cuts, he said, and elimination of some academic programs and employee layoffs may be needed to address a funding gap.

Gov. Sean Parnell had already told regents to expect no more than a “hold the line” budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The price of oil, which fuels upward of 90 percent of state revenue, has fallen from more than $110 per barrel to about $80 per barrel.

By the end of next year, Gamble said, the university may have cut its budget by as much as $80 million in three years to offset rising fixed costs and declining state funding. Fat has been trimmed, he said, and the “big muscle cuts” could be made to programs or departments.

“Whether you did it slow or did it fast, the mop is wrung out,” Gamble said.

Lawmakers during the 2014 legislative session approved funding at nearly $25 million less than regents requested.

Regents took testimony Wednesday from students who fear their programs could be eliminated. Students called for continued support of philosophy, education, engineering, film studies and fire science programs.

Some decisions will be unpopular, Gamble said.

“We’re not going to duck and avoid this,” Gamble said. “It’s coming, and we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to do this.”


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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