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TWU, UNT preparing for potential state funding cuts

The state budget sent to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk includes funding cuts to Texas Woman's University and the University of North Texas. 

While there's still time for Abbott to add a special session or veto portions of funding, local university officials are beginning to prepare for the cuts. 

In special items, TWU lost about $3.5 million in funding, while UNT lost almost $1 million that supported Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science. In total, TWU is projecting a little more than in $5 million in cuts, and UNT is preparing for about $3.5 million.

"Given the going-in position of the state budget, we feel that the result was fair and the way it was distributed across the state was equitable in terms of how other universities responded," UNT President Neal Smatresk said. "While one is never happy about a reduction in budget, this was a reasonable response to a tough budget."

Both universities are getting one-time payments of "hold harmless funding" to give the universities time to plan for some of the major cuts. These payments are designed so major and immediate cuts can be avoided. 

B.J. Crain, interim vice president for finance and administration at TWU, said that over the next three years, the university will look to cut 7 percent of its budget. Between this budget forecast and the reliance on reserve funds the past two years, Crain said she'll work with departments to cut expenses. 

"It allows you to strategically look forward," she told the TWU Board of Regents last week. 

The impact to UNT will be determined once the school figures out how much enrollment growth will happen in the fall. This won't change the budget for the upcoming year, and Smatresk is hoping that an increase in students will cover the state funding losses. 

"My prediction right now is we'll be OK, but depending on how enrollment goes, it will determine how much latitude we have for continued growth or budgetary restraints going into next fiscal year," he said. 

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889.