University Board Discusses Draft with $100M Budget Cut
SAN JUAN — The University of Puerto Rico’s (UPR) University Board met Saturday to discuss budget adjustments, which included the evaluation of possible cuts nearing $100 million.
The discussed document represents a budget that the Board must hand the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish acronym) by February 15. This document, which contemplates several adjustments, was described by student representatives as an initial exercise rather than a formal proposal.
“The scenario presented today is a cut of $100 million, to which we must add a $50 million reserve,” said José Jiménez, student representative for the Humacao campus.
For her part, UPR President Celeste Freytes described the discussion as “a step” in a process, in which the University’s different components are expected to participate.
There was some support from student representatives for Dr. Freytes for taking the issue to the highest university representation rank with participants from all campuses.
Student representatives indicated that the budget stemmed from the premise of the UPR’s current amount of employees and students. Likewise, they didn’t consider a campus downsize. Additionally, Jiménez wanted to clarify that the University Board didn’t seek to approve a plan or proposal yesterday, but Freytes will hold meetings with different sectors from the academic institution to collect recommendations for the fiscal plan.
In the case of students, Jiménez indicated they will propose to reject reductions to the university’s public financing, an administrative restructure in both the Central Administration and the campuses guided by the university community, and for the presidency to present a “firm stance on behalf of all the university community, regarding the cuts that both the Fiscal Oversight & Management Board and the new AAFAF are proposing for the University.”
Freytes stated in written declarations that the bisget “precedes the document that will be submitted to the Fiscal Oversight & Management Board. This body made adjustment recommendations to the University of Puerto Rico, as well as to other agencies and Government instrumentalities.”
The UPR president’s office issued a letter that affirmed she requested the fiscal board to ponder alternatives that “preserve” the dialogue. “This approach,” it reads, “is being made equally with representatives from university sectors who have already been convened.”
Among the measures considered in the document, are: $69,636,171 in cuts to the Employee Payroll and Contributions; a $16,150,000 cut to the public debt’s payment; and $35,584,000 in operational expenses. These cuts fall short by more than $175 million to the $300 million goal established by the Fiscal Oversight & Management Board. According to Jiménez, this proves that the federal fiscal authority’s proposed cut can’t be achieved if the UPR wants to maintain quality service and its academic service.
Apart from possible cuts, participants also discussed possible income measures—among them, services that the UPR could offer different government dependencies, projects such as “Posterriqueño,” and patent developments.