Saturday, July 11, 2020

Humboldt State Contending with $20 Million Budget Shortfall

Posted By on Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 2:49 PM

click to enlarge Humboldt State's Founders Hall. - FILE
  • FILE
  • Humboldt State's Founders Hall.
Contending with a projected $20 million budget shortfall, Humboldt State University is putting finishing touches on its spending plan — with reductions to be spread over the next two years — and more details are expected to be released in August.

HSU’s budget director Amber Blakeslee writes in a letter to the campus community that progress is being made “on stabilizing its financial position” and the university is “actively working with entities across campus to ensure we have the resources to deliver a quality educational experience for our students in the face of immense uncertainty and changing circumstances.”

The letter notes HSU has received nearly $6 million in federal funding through one-time infusions from the CARES Act and Minority Serving Institution Program to offset the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Blakeslee also states that “$7.5 million in spending has been reduced through a combination of strategies” and an early retirement program is still accepting applications until Monday.

On a small upside, Blakeslee reports cuts to the California State University system in the state budget are slightly less than those proposed in the governor’s May revise — 7.5 percent compared to 10 percent.

“If the state receives additional federal stimulus funding (we should have additional information in the September/October time frame), we may receive one-time relief in the upcoming year,” the letter states. “Next week, we anticipate receiving notification about HSU’s 2020-21 state appropriation, which is one of the final pieces needed to solidify the 2020-21 budget.”

Read the letter from HSU budget director Amber Blakeslee:

Dear Campus Community: I first want to acknowledge the emotional toll the pandemic and our ongoing financial challenges continue to take on all of us.

It is at times overwhelming and exhausting, yet simultaneously inspiring to see the campus continue to come together in support of our students and each other. The University is making progress on stabilizing its financial position and is actively working with entities across campus to ensure we have the resources to deliver a quality educational experience for our students in the face of immense uncertainty and changing circumstances.

While we are still working through the finishing touches on the 2020-21 Budget Plan, I wanted to share initial details on the plan and intend to provide more comprehensive information by early August.

From a high-level budget planning standpoint, we are still working toward eliminating our projected $20 million budget shortfall over the next two years. New enrollment and state budget information continue to affirm this as a solid planning target during these unprecedented times.

At the state level, Governor Newsom and the State Legislature recently reached agreement on the 2020-21 State of California budget, with many details still forthcoming. Our understanding is that the CSU will incur a reduction of approximately $300 million (~7.5%), a slight improvement from the 10% reduction included in the Governor’s May Budget Revision.

If the state receives additional federal stimulus funding (we should have additional information in the September/October timeframe), we may receive one-time relief in the upcoming year. Next week, we anticipate receiving notification about HSU’s 2020-21 state appropriation, which is one of the final pieces needed to solidify the 2020-21 budget.

At the campus level, we are making significant progress to address the anticipated $20 million budget shortfall by 2021-22.

Approximately $7.5 million in spending has been reduced through a combination of strategies identified in the Fiscal Stability Plan. HSU’s Early Exit Program — which is currently accepting applications until July 13, 2020 — will also help stabilize the budget.

Even as we continue to work through this challenging reduction process, we are investing significant one-time resources to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and support the educational experience of our students. HSU has received $5.9 million in federal funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and Minority Serving Institution Program (MSI) to help cover some of the costs related to the impact of COVID-19.

We are close to firming up this spending plan and a separate communication will be shared with these details in the coming days.

In addition, more than $800,000 in one-time GI 2025 funding will be invested in a variety of efforts to help eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps and increase graduation rates for our students.

I sincerely thank you for your continued dedication to HSU and for your commitment to helping this institution successfully navigate these stressful, challenging times.

Sincerely,

University Budget Director Amber Blakeslee 
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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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