Money makes the world go ’round

By Molly Dischner
Sun Star Editor-in-Chief

Follow the money. It’s good advice in the news business. People care about how their money is spent. Students need to know where their tuition and fees are going – and how the state is supporting education. Journalism is a public service so we do our best to cover those issues.

In the midst of budget season, following the money can get stale for reporters and readers alike. An afternoon spent playing Frisbee golf or enjoying “free” barbeque is a lot more fun than reading the latest Support UA e-mail or looking at the Board of Regents’ agenda. But those are important.

An April 7 SupportUA e-mail mentioned that the Life Science Facility wasn’t in the Senate’s capital budget. By Sunday evening, the News-Miner reported that the legislature was considering spending $38 million on the project. I don’t know why it got added back in, but I suspect that the people who called or e-mailed someone in Juneau about the building had something to do with it. UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers’ impromptu visit last week probably helped too.

The regents are meeting this week to begin creating the budget for fiscal year 2012, which begins on July 1, 2011. There is a lot in the agenda that might affect students.

On Friday, they’ll approve (or not) a motion that sets the guidelines for operating budget requests for 2012. The rationale/recommendation given in the regents’ agenda says that the budget needs to be well thought out. That seems obvious, but the guidelines make some requests that require tough decisions.

“In short, rather than build a budget that that will fund to some extent the existing/desired University’s role in the state, we will need to define the University role that will fit the expected budget,” that section of the agenda reads.

The statement says that each campus needs to consider where it can streamline operations and make cuts. It asks decision-makers to consider sizing down administration and combining academic programs throughout the university system so that there’s one school of business or journalism, rather than multiple.

That part of the agenda also notes that a tuition increase is planned for FY2012. Tuition in lower level classes will go up five percent; others will increase by 10 percent.

Each UA campus is just beginning to create their 2012 budget. The life sciences fight isn’t over. The legislature hasn’t finalized the capital budget, and even after they do, Parnell will approve or veto items as he sees fit.

Don’t stop paying attention now. Weigh in on the issues that matter to you. The world doesn’t stop for summer, and your voice does matter – if you use it to do something more than just post on Facebook.

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