LARAMIE, Wyo. — If the state Legislature follows Gov. Matt Mead's budget recommendations, the University of Wyoming would have its state funding cut by about $11.4 million but would get money for employee merit pay raises and for one of the largest building projects ever undertaken at the university.
Under Mead's budget recommendations, released last Friday, the university's budget in the 2013-2014 fiscal year would be reduced by 6 percent from current spending levels, while most other state agencies would see an 8 percent reduction.
The governor had requested that UW prepare for a reduction as steep as 8 percent, which would have meant a $15.7 million reduction.
"It's just one of those things where it could have been worse," UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said.
The 6 percent reduction, if approved by the Legislature early next year, would begin in July.
In preparation for a budget reduction, UW has been holding positions open and reducing non-personnel expenses.
UW President Tom Buchanan said in a statement that the university appreciates that the governor is recommending a 6 percent cut in UW funding rather than 8 percent.
"A 6 percent reduction certainly won't be achieved without some pain, but we're also grateful to the governor for his commitment to major improvement of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and his recognition that university employees are deserving of a merit pay increase after four years of no raises," Buchanan said. "We hope those investments will remain through the legislative process."
Mead's recommendations propose a recurring $2.4 million appropriation for UW employee pay increases and a one-time, $70 million allocation for renovation and expansion of the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science facilities.
School officials describe the Engineering and Applied Science facilities project as possibly the largest in school history, totaling more than $100 million.
Mead's recommendation of $2.4 million for UW employee raises is less than half of the $5 million UW sought.
Still, Buchanan said the university is pleased Mead understands the importance of pay raises.
"To retain our top faculty and staff members, and to recruit high performers, we need to offer nationally competitive salaries," he said.