HomeNewsColleges facing cuts due to low sales tax collections

Colleges facing cuts due to low sales tax collections

Tyler Junior College is facing a 5 percent decrease in funding due to a decrease in state sales tax revenue.

Sales tax from fiscal year 2008 to 2009 dropped 2.7 percent. More recently a comparison of sales tax receipts from January 2010 and January 2009 showed a drop of 14.2 percent, according to the state comptroller’s Web site.

With the decline in sales tax, the Legislative Budget Board has asked all state agencies to evaluate cutbacks.

The Legislative Budget Board is a permanent joint committee of the Texas Legislature that develops budget and policy recommendations for legislative appropriations for all agencies of state government.

“Sales tax revenues go up and down depending on how people spend money, so right now people are not spending like they were and sales tax receipts have just dropped through the basement,” said TJC President Dr. Mike Metke.

TJC, like many public colleges, is dependent on state sales taxes, local property taxes and tuition. Colleges do have the option to apply for federal grants, but the grants do not cover the cost for day-to-day operations of the institution.

“It doesn’t really support what you’re riding for, it doesn’t pay teachers in the classroom, it doesn’t buy the equipment and the facilities,” said Dr. Metke.

Through sales taxes, colleges receive installment payments from the state; however, due to a significant drop in sales tax revenue the Legislative Budget Board must balance the state budget by adjusting the distribution of money, shorting the available funds to all agencies, including the Texas Higher Education Agency.

“The Legislative Budget Board requested that each state institution or state agency to have a 5 percent plan on how we would cut the appropriations we were appropriated for the 2010-11 biennium,” said Interim Vice President of Business Affairs Sarah Van Cleef.

The funding is set for two years because the Legislative Budget Board meets every other year. The next expected LBB meeting is in January 2011.

“We have not been asked to give back money,” said Van Cleef.The budget plan is like a guideline or a playbook to follow. If the decreases were to occur, the school would have a plan. TJC’s future is optimistic.

“It’s not going to be anything that affects the classrooms,” said Interim Department Chair of Mathematics Jerry McCormack, “it’s not anything essential.”

Most departments are considering cutting back on travel or conferences for faculty. The cutback situation currently is simply just a possibility, but if the cuts are to be made, it’s nothing TJC has not encountered before.

“We have experienced this type of behavior in the past. In 2003, we had to give back 7 percent,” said Van Cleef, “so we’ve seen worse.”

For information on Texas sales tax revenue visit the Texas state comptroller Web site at window.state.tx.us/finances/pubs/cafr/index.html, or for information about the Legislative Budget Board visit lbb.state.tx.us/.

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