As students of Salt Lake Community College, are you aware of what is going on in the state legislature that affects you? In order to be aware, two questions need to be answered. First, what is being done to prevent budget cuts at SLCC? Second, what will it mean to you as students if the budget gets cut? Several factors have led legislators to propose a budget cut for institutions of higher education. With decreased funds coming from the state, SLCC’s ability to provide lower costs for tuition will be compromised. The vision of becoming the world’s premier comprehensive community college would be at risk.
To understand a little bit about SLCC’s budget, here are a few insights to help. The budget is divided into five categories. Those categories are the general operating budget, designated budget, auxiliary budget, restricted budget, and capital budget. The general operation budget comes from federal funds and is the category that will be affected dramatically if our budget is cut. This primary budget is also referred to as “Education and General” or “Appropriated” budget. Expenditures covered under the budget include operation and maintenance of facilities, student services, academic and institutional support, and instruction. Currently, of the 12 percent of the government funds given to higher education, 8.3 percent of the total amount is given to SLCC. Of course this money is funded by state tax funds and tuition from legislature.
Since the 2010 Utah State Legislative session began on January 25, 2010, President Bioteau of SLCC met with the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee to oppose budget cuts and communicate SLCC’s ability to perform our core mission in the state of our current budget. Part of SLCC’s core mission is to be an “open access” institution, where individuals of all economic situations and backgrounds can come to get a quality higher education. As a community college, SLCC is also concerned with providing quality higher education at lower costs. In other words, the budget cuts will lead to increased tuition and decreased pocket change.
In addition to being the fourth largest community college in the country, SLCC is the largest institution of higher education in Utah. Annually, SLCC faculty teaches 60,000 students, and that number is currently on the rise. Because of the unprecedented growth along with proposed budget cuts, certain challenges have come to the forefront. The 4,000 additional students mean there is a need for additional instructors and courses. Using the “backfill” stimulus fund, SLCC hired 214 more instructors and offered 700 additional courses. With the current situation of possible budget cuts, SLCC may be forced to increase class sizes that currently max out at 25 students. SLCC may also have to tighten up on their policy of “open access,” meaning not everyone who applies will be accepted in the future. Furthermore, programs may be closed as well as SLCC campuses.
For more information about SLCC budget cuts at the Utah State Legislature, go to http://le.state.ut.us/.