The University of New Mexico is scrambling to come up with $20 million after the governor reminded the school that all employees should be getting a 4 percent pay hike. The school was planning on a lot less.
At the regents’ meeting, they were supposed to discuss a small tuition hike to cover a budget shortfall, but UNM officials said they were blindsided by the governor’s mandate and they’re now trying to work it out.
At the Board of Regents’ budget meeting for the fiscal year starting in July, it wasn’t the most optimistic.
“We’re continuing to struggle with the budget,” said Interim Provost Richard Wood.
The university blames its budget shortfall on state cuts since the recession, and on a steady decline in enrollment and slumping revenue from athletics. However, administrators said their biggest challenge is coming from the governor’s office.
“And what the new thing is we’ve learned that the governor is really wanting to provide a four percent compensation increase,” said Wood.
The regents received a letter from the Governor’s Higher Education Secretary, ordering the 4 percent pay raises, conceding coming up with the money will be a challenge for UNM.
“We clearly have some budgetary issues to deal with in regards to compensation,” said UNM President Garnett Stokes.
University officials said that 4 percent increase for faculty and staff would put them in the hole about $20 million, and to reach that goal it could come with severe cuts or drastic tuition hikes.
“A one percent tuition increase only raises $770,000,” said Stokes.
Administrators now have to re-visit the idea of a 6 percent tuition increase, which would cost full-time undergrads about $400 more a year. As you can imagine, that’s a very unpopular idea with students.
“It’s pretty upsetting hearing that tuition could be raised more,” said UNM student Hannah Warren.
KRQE News 13 is told the regents could have another meeting in the next few days to come up with a plan.
The governor’s office said the state will look into UNM’s claim that it’s $20 million short to cover the pay raises.