May 27, 2017
Dear UT Faculty and Staff,
This evening, the Texas Legislature passed the state budget for the upcoming 2018-2019 biennium, but it won’t be final until it is signed by Governor Greg Abbott. As expected from the outset, the 85th Legislative Session has been fiscally challenging for lawmakers. I am glad that the leadership and the Senate and House have come to an agreement during the regular session.
I thank Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Joe Straus for their strong support for UT Austin’s education, research and our new health care mission. I’m also grateful for the dedicated work of Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson and House Appropriations Chair John Zerwas along with many other legislators who worked on the budget. Throughout the finance and appropriations process, I saw the Legislature’s commitment to higher education despite significant fiscal challenges.
You may read in the media that UT Austin’s funding for 2018-2019 has not been cut. This is true, but some of the money in our new budget is one-time funding that will likely not continue beyond 2019. Our recurring base funding was reduced by about $27 million per year, primarily because of the formula funding process. But the Legislature generously allocated one-time funding — for this biennium only — which enables UT Austin to maintain our current base level of funds and also gives us time to reduce expenditures accordingly. I greatly appreciate their support.
In addition, Dell Medical School will receive new base funding for medical education, resident training and research. Overall, with the new medical school funding and the one-time funding, the total state appropriation to UT for the 2018-2019 biennium increased slightly. The Legislature also increased Texas Grants by 10 percent, which provides much needed financial aid for students across Texas. This vital program helps with affordability and access to UT and other public universities for students with financial need.
With the decrease in UT’s recurring base budget, the reality is that we — the leadership, faculty and staff — must allocate our resources more efficiently. Over the coming months, we will develop strategies to improve our operations and refine priorities. The one-time funding for this upcoming biennium will allow us to undertake a thoughtful process for implementing budget reductions. With that said, one of my highest priorities is to recognize the excellence of our faculty members and staff members, and that includes competitive salaries. This commitment will continue to inform our budgetary decisions.
Thank you for all that you do for The University of Texas. I will be consulting with you to hear your perspectives and ideas as we make difficult choices in the weeks ahead.