In the final days of the 85th Texas legislative session, a budget was submitted to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature to fund higher education for the 2018-2019 biennium, a specified time frame of two years. The State budget submitted for the Health Science Center included an overall reduction in base funding of 2.6 percent. The cuts to our special items varied. The Health Science Center also received new funding designated for Alzheimer’s research (through the Barshop Institute for Aging & Longevity Studies) in the amount of $2.5 million per year. This new funding for Alzheimer’s research offsets the reductions imposed, so the published budget for our institution will be cited as an overall reduction in funding of only 1.5 percent. However, please keep in mind that this new funding is not to be used to offset the reductions in our funding for base operations. We will do our best to leverage these new funds towards planned commitments in Alzheimer’s research.
Below is a summary of the overall reductions to our State appropriation along with the new funding received for 2018-2019.
As you will recall, preliminary budget planning efforts imposed a reduction of 8 percent allocated among all units. This plan was deemed prudent given the uncertainty of the legislative outcome as well as firm increased costs, such as increased infrastructure and staff benefits costs, anticipated for the FY18 operating budget.
Given the persistent and determined efforts of President Henrich and our Governmental Relations team at the Capitol, we are fortunate that this planned reduction of 8 percent will not be realized. The necessary reduction among UT Health San Antonio units will be approximately 4 percent with the reduction to our base funding of 2.6 percent and increased fixed costs. For the applicable schools, this reduction will be offset by incremental tuition increases. The annual impact to our State budget is summarized below.
The reductions imposed to special items and non-formula funding, such as Laredo, SALSI, and the Dental Outpatient Clinic (DOPC), will be applied directly to those appropriations such that the impact to those activities will be more severe. Careful consideration in implementing these reductions is required and that planning is underway.
President Henrich and the Deans agreed that if the actual reduction from the State was less than the 8 percent that was planned, we would support a 2 percent merit increase for staff. Given the favorable outcome from the legislative process, we are authorizing a 2 percent merit pool to be awarded through the standard institutional merit process, to be effective Sept. 1, 2017. Details regarding the merit award process are forthcoming.