Texas Colleges and Universities Could Face More Budget Cuts

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--Fearing the worst after already cutting 5%, many are wondering, what's left to cut?

UTPB President Dr. David Watts says the governor usually sends a letter to inform them of these types of things.  As of Wednesday, UTPB hasn't seen any such letter.

"We really do not have official word yet. So, it's hard to tell you, exactly, what we're going to do," Watts commented.

After cutting their budget by 5% less than six months ago, Dr. Watts was unable to answer when we asked, 'if told to do so, what else is left to cut that hasn't been already?'

Watts responded, "That's a very difficult challenge. That's why we're consulting within the University and with our friends and supporters in the community to help make and frame those decisions."

The amount could be anywhere from 5 to 10 percent. Watts says they are ready for a decision that, as far as he knows, hasn't been made yet, "Beginning on September 1, 2011 and going through August 31, 2013, we all expect substantial, large reductions."

Because of the way colleges and universities get their funding, it makes them more vulnerable for budget cuts, should the need arise.  State funding exists for public schools, highways and medical programs. The less they spend, the less they get.

"Higher education isn't that way," Watts explained. "Higher education receives tuition from students, of course.  There's always the risk, as the state funding goes down, pressure exists for the university to increase tuition."

So, if these budget cuts happen, what does that mean for UTPB?  Will this affect the current expansion projects on campus?

"The bonds to support the construction have been sold and the contracts have been signed. All the construction will go through," Watts answered.

And what about tuition?

According to Watts, "I would anticipate that institutions, like UTPB, will be asking for tuition increases, but it's too early to speculate as to how much."

Dr. Watts says no matter what the economic climate, UTPB will continue their commitment to excellence, regardless of what happens in the state and with state funding, "We're in the position to provide service to West Texas and we're going to continue to do that, far into the future."