May 22, 2012

Letter sent to USM Community Legislative Special Session

Dear Colleagues:

Now that the legislative special session has concluded, and a significant portion of the USM funding that was at risk of being cut has been restored, I want to express my sincere appreciation for the effort so many of you made to help achieve this favorable outcome.

As you know, the USM stood to be cut nearly $50 million under the so-called “doomsday budget,” which would have resulted in cuts to financial aid, reduced enrollment, programmatic cuts, layoffs and a double-digit tuition increase. However, thanks in large part to your advocacy, we avoided this fate.

Between the 90-day General Assembly session and the 3-day special session, members of the USM community sent more than 43,000 messages to the Governor and legislators opposing cuts to higher education and calling for the rejection of the doomsday budget. That impressive showing helped turn the tide. And while the USM was not held harmless in the final budget, given the state of the economy and the magnitude of cuts made in other areas of state government, we achieved a significant victory.

In the end, the USM will be required to provide a $5 million fund balance transfer and will have to absorb $5.3 million in direct budget cuts. But when you consider that the USM represents 7 percent of the total State General Fund Budget, yet is only shouldering 1.5 percent of the total budget cuts made, it is clear that the Governor and General Assembly fully recognize the University System’s role as the engine of innovation, discovery, and knowledge that will advance the state’s economy and quality of life.

I thank you once again for your tremendous advocacy and impressive efforts on behalf of the USM.

Sincerely yours,

William E. Kirwan