U of I seeks staff furloughs to trim spending

Facing the prospect of an additional $1 million in spending cuts, the University of Idaho is asking employees to take voluntary unpaid furloughs, the Lewiston Tribune reported.

U of I President C. Scott Green floated the idea in a memo to faculty and staff last week, according to Justyna Tomtas of the Tribune, and Green said the idea came from university employees.

“One suggestion we have heard repeatedly, and one that brings me great pride in our shared commitment to our university, is voluntary employee furlough,” Green wrote. “While volunteering for furlough is no small thing, it is an expedient and immediate way for employees to help the university reduce costs, and there appears to be strong interest from our employees to contribute.”

The voluntary furloughs — running up to five days — should cover the need for a $1 million midyear spending cut. Gov. Brad Little has asked state agencies to cut spending by 1 percent for the 2019-20 budget year, which runs through June 30. Little spared K-12 from the midyear spending cuts, but not higher education.

Idaho’s colleges and universities will need to cut spending by 2 percent in 2020-21. It’s unclear how the U of I will meet this request, Tomtas reported.

And these cuts come on top of an even larger budget crunch at the U of I.

Since the summer, Green and university administrators have been looking for ways to cut spending and erase a $14 million shortfall — one that is projected to reach $22 million within the next two years.

 

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