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UNC system gets legislative approval for capital projects as across-the-board cuts loom

** See update at the end of this story**

Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill on Monday that authorizes the UNC system to spend $376 million on capital improvements, while the state’s public universities await a 2015 budget proposal that could heap on more budget cuts to other critical areas of service for students.

The funds, which the Governor says will come from various fees, receipts, grants and other fundraising income, will allow NC State University to spend $35 million to renovate Reynolds Coliseum. Eastern Carolina University will be able to spend $156 million to update its student union, and other capital updates are earmarked for UNC Charlotte, Western Carolina University, UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Asheville.

Gov. McCrory has proposed a 2015 budget that would slash state funding for the UNC system by $49 million. Suggestions in McCrory’s budget for where to cut include faculty workload adjustments, reducing senior and middle management, eliminating low-enrollment programs, and restructuring research activities. 

Those cuts would come on top of years of funding reductions. In 2011, the state’s universities had to cut $80 million, or 3.4 percent of its overall budget. Five hundred classes were eliminated, 3,000 jobs were cut and another 1,500 vacant jobs were eliminated.

In the four years prior to 2011, the state slashed funding to the university system by $1.2 billion.

McCrory’s 2015 budget proposal also makes a $13 million cut to all UNC centers and institutes that are not directly involved in degree production, a $10 million cut to scholarship programs for nonresident students, and a $24 million cut to account for fewer numbers of students enrolling at the state’s public universities. 

Lawmakers continue to hash out the final 2015 budget in closed door conference committee meetings this week.

**UPDATE: this post was modified to clarify that the UNC system will receive no new state appropriations as a result of this enacted legislation.

From Joni Worthington, VP for Communications, UNC System:

The University will receive NO “cash infusion” as a result of the bill signed by the Governor.   The UNC capital projects included in the bill are all non-appropriated or self-liquidating projects.  The source(s) of non-state funds used to repay the debt on these facilities will vary with the purpose of the project (e.g., student housing and food service receipts, student fees, athletic receipts, parking receipts, federal grants, private gifts, etc.), but all the funding will originate on the campus(es) constructing the buildings and not elsewhere in state government.  Even though no state funding is involved here, the University must seek legislative authorization each year to move forward with any capital projects above a certain dollar threshold.  This week the Governor signed the bill authorizing the campuses to begin those self-liquidating projects requested this session.

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