- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Further cuts to state aid and salary and benefits increases over the next two years will require the university system to cut more than $50 million from its budget by 2019, according to University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds.

Bounds said the university system is already convening committees that plan to look at proposing potential cuts and tuition increases at the Jan. 27 NU Board of Regents meeting, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (https://bit.ly/2jQnTww ) Friday.

On Thursday, Gov. Pete Ricketts proposed a cut of more than $12 million to the university system next year. NU is also looking at a “mandatory, unavoidable” 10 percent increase in health insurance costs in each of the next two years, Bound said. Collective bargaining negotiations could add another $28 million in costs, he said.

“We’ve got to figure out how to deal with a budgetary gap here over the next two years of $50 million, and that’s making the assumption that there will be no inflationary increases, which you and I know there will be,” Bounds said.

New utility costs will also need to be absorbed, he said, noting that buildings like the new College of Business Administration at UNL and the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the medical school campus in Omaha are expected to open this year.

Other higher education systems are also facing more cuts.

The Nebraska State College System will be asked to cut 1.4 percent next year and 0.2 percent in the second year of the biennium, a budget document provided by the governor’s office shows.

Nebraska’s six community colleges will be asked to make a further reduction of 3 percent in each of the next two years, beyond the 4 percent reduction Ricketts asked them to make by June.

“We certainly think our community colleges do wonderful work,” Ricketts told the Journal Star. “We felt like they could absorb it.”

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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