State of Georgia requires all agencies, including the University System, to reduce budgets by 14%

Andy Cole

ATLANTA — While the full repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic are not yet known, the state of Georgia is expecting a significant drop in state revenue.

Because of this, the state announced on May 1 that all state agencies, including the University System of Georgia (USG) and their institutions, must reduce their 2021 fiscal year budgets by 14%.

According to a May 1 memo, obtained by The George-Anne, USG chancellor Steve Wrigley writes to USG presidents, including GS’ Kyle Marrero, instructing institutions to submit a plan by May 20. 

“This will not be easy work,” Wrigley wrote. “We will be faced with some uncertainty until the FY21 budget is adopted and approved.”

A USG press release issued on May 7 provides guidance from the Board of Regents that includes a variable amount of furlough days depending on a staff member’s salary.

Most USG staff will take anywhere from four to eight furlough days, according to the release. USG staff members making $154,000 or more (the highest salary tier) will take 16 days, equivalent to a 6.2% pay decrease.

Wrigley, Marrero and all other USG presidents will take a 10% pay reduction, equivalent to 26 furlough days.

Furlough days are not the only measure being explored. Staff reductions, hiring freezes for non-essential positions and “[Remaining] committed to a critical [hiring process] for the few that are,” are other options Wrigley describes in his memo.

Wrigley emphasized that each budget plan will be unique to each institution.

An email, forwarded to The George-Anne by a GS assistant professor, describes a May 8 meeting with Marrero and the senate executive committee (SEC), part of the faculty senate.

Currently, GS is exploring reducing operation expenses and travel, “scrutinizing” vacant positions, minimum furloughs (which is a mandate from the USG) and early retirement options for eligible employees.

“We are still about $3.8 million short after these cuts,” Carol Jamison, author of the email, said. “[Marrero] does not want to consider layoffs or additional furloughs. He will seek other ways to make up this deficit.”

While GS and the USG plan on returning to face-to-face instruction in the fall, as long as health regulations permit, the USG is also exploring options to “toggle” back and forth between online and face-to-face teaching and learning.

Plans are due May 26, according to the email.

Marrero also discussed enrollment forecasts in the SEC meeting. According to the email, Marrero said summer enrollment is only down 1%, while freshman fall admission is up 50%.

“[The] USG will continue to monitor the financial impact of COVID-19 and adjust as circumstances require,” ensured the USG in the May 7 press release.

Andy Cole, Managing Editor for News Coverage, [email protected]