Town hall meeting informs campus

By: Michael Blackson

Immediately following the anti-budget cuts rally, people quickly filled up the SMC’s multipurpose room for student senate’s town hall meeting. Student Senate President Sarah Darling addressed the assembled crowd first, announcing “the purpose of today’s meeting is to provide an open forum for Millersville students to learn about the proposed budget and ask questions.”
Dr. Roger Bruszewski, vice president for finance and administration, facilitated the town hall meeting. He began with a page out of Governor Corbett’s budget book. It showed “how the budget is being realigned,” said Bruszewski.
For those who wish to look over this page, the information is available on Millersville’s website and scroll up to site index. Look on the letter ‘B’ and click on ‘Budget.’ On the left, there is a big orange tab titled ‘Budget Issues.’ The presentation is located on the left hand side titled, ‘2010-11 Town Hall Student Meeting.’
According to Dr. Bruszewski’s presentation, for Millersville, the state allocates $482 million for PASSHE as well as funds for other priorities, such as educational and general use, and Recruitment of the Disadvantaged. Next are funds from AARA, or stimulus money that was included in the PASSHE budget for three years. This year happens to be the last year the stimulus money will be available, which totaled $38 million. With the proposed budget cut, Millersville will only receive $232 million, funds for the other priorities will be cut completely and stimulus money will be diminished, leaving Millersville without $27 million.
Although the publicized 50% budget cut is the talk of the town, with the entire math calculated in, Millersville’s funding will be cut by 53.8%.
Dr. Bruszewski said to those who have a student loan or grant, “It may be cut.” Although $7.3 million is expected to rollover into next year, it is for every student in the state, including those from Temple and Penn State University. No one is sure how much money is expected to be disbursed of that amount.
Additionally, PHEAA monies and other monies being greatly reduced is a possibility.
The board meeting to decide tuition is often held in the third week of July, but it has been moved up into the last week of June. Millersville is unable to send out bills and decide what type of financial aid students are receiving “until we know what your costs are going to be.” It is a possibility that the Budget Office will send out simulated scenarios.
Then came the Q&A forum of the discussion, started off by the most popular question.
“How come we’re building all these buildings if we don’t have any money?” Dr. Bruszewski continued, “Why can’t we take that money and put it into the budget?”
According to him, it is illegal.
The money received for expansion of the SMC and building the Performing Arts building next to Lyte come from “bonds, the state, loans, and private gifts.” They are solely dedicated for that particular use only. Additionally, these monies and dedications happened 5-10 years prior to this budget crisis.
Those who are graduating from a program that may be impacted by the budget cuts are given a commitment that they will graduate.
What about professors? An affordable education is necessary, but so is quality education. Dr. Bruszewski said that there is a rainy day reserve, where contingency dollars and strategies are stored in case professors and faculty need to be maintained for the school.
For students, once again, when tuition increases, a percentage of that money is put aside for “students with financial needs,” said Dr. Bruszewski. He also mentioned that a significant increase might be needed to assist those with financial needs.
Students with job on-campus should not worry. “There is no problem with losing your job,” Dr. Bruszewski said. “It does not affect them at all,” as there is $40 million floating around dedicated to that cause and others.
But with a 53.8% budget cut, “there are no safe areas; all areas will be reviewed.”