Executive order would slice support for university system, including $3M from UNH

By Tom Spencer, Staff Writer

Gov. Maggie Hassan issued an executive order that will cut $3 million from the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) according to a press release from the governor’s office on Nov. 24.

The legislation, entitled “Executive Order 2014-9” was a budget that the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee approved in what the press release noted as a bipartisan vote.

The University of New Hampshire receives its state funding through USNH, but students should not expect to see drastic changes related to the budget cut, which goes into effect in the 2015 fiscal year.

“President Huddleston, along with leadership from the University System of New Hampshire, agreed that we needed to work with the governor to address the state’s budget challenges,” said Mica Stark, the special assistant to the president government relations and strategic initiatives.

UNH generally receives about 70 percent of the funding allotted to USNH, according to Stark. This means UNH will actually be losing about $2 million in funds.

This budget cut will not have an impact on tuition, according to Stark.

“President Huddleston, the chancellor and board leadership were adamant that we keep the tuition freeze in place,” Stark said.

According to Stark, the cut will be absorbed responsibly by UNH. 

“…[a] guiding principle for President Huddleston and USNH leadership is that this $3 million cut be managed in a way that does not impact the quality at UNH or the other USNH institutions,” Stark said.

Instead, the cuts will come from UNH’s long-term investments, including “advancement, online enrollment and other long-range technology initiatives,” Stark said.

The new budget is part of Hassan’s “commitment to a fiscally responsible, balanced budget,” according to the press release.

The cuts were made to accommodate for a drop in tax revenue. The state ended the 2014 fiscal year with a $20 million surplus, but after a notable decrease in tax revenue, Hassan ordered state agencies to make plans to reduce spending in October.

“Despite the challenges posed by continued caseload growth and shortfalls in revenues from business taxes and the interest and dividend tax, it is in that same spirit that I will work with you and our state agencies to ensure a balanced budget for fiscal year 2015,” Hassan said in the press release.

The total cut to executive branch expenditures is $18,268,930. The current budget should remain in place until the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2014, unless the legislature makes a change sooner.

USNH will not be the only educational system to see a reduction in funding. The Community College System of New Hampshire will experience a cut of $345,000. 

The cuts extend far beyond education. There will also be reductions to the Office of Veteran Services and Veteran’s Home.

The overall theme of the financial mission is to reduce spending without diminishing the quality offered by any of the programs. In the press release pertaining to the new budget, Hassan said the reductions come “with a focus on avoiding unnecessary harm while minimizing the impact on the functions of state government and our responsibility to provide critical services to the people and businesses of New Hampshire.”