University of Puerto Rico budget closer to final aproval
SAN JUAN – The University of Puerto Rico’s (UPR) board has approved a budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. The proposed budget, which includes a $187.7 million reduction in central government allocations, can now be evaluated now by the finance committee of the academic institution’s board of trustees.
The approval of this proposal, which presents a consolidated budget of roughly $1.4 million, was reached with 25 voting in favor and nine opposing votes from the student delegation.
Several student representatives criticized that the executive nature of the meeting, as it wasn’t broadcast to the public and only members of that entity could participate. As explained by José Jiménez, the student representative for the Humacao campus to the board, UPR Interim President Darrel Hillman requested that people be removed from the meeting room, and in a subsequent meeting the body voted against broadcasting the meeting.
As for why the student delegation decided to vote against the proposal, Jiménez said it was due to the “cuts and austerity measures they represent for the university.” However, he clarified that the student caucus did back seven savings recommendations presented during the meeting. One of these, which Hillman supported, is for savings produced at the vice presidencies to be transferred to the UPR reserve fund.
Among the recommendations by the university board’s budget committee, is to follow Certification 85 2016-17 of the board of trustees, which consolidates the three vice presidencies into one. These recommendations are in addition to other savings measures that were already being considered, such as eliminating special bonuses and reducing the Christmas bonus to $600, the minimum under the law.
While the consolidated budget is of $1.35 million, the proposed general fund would be $875,729, which represents a $139 million reduction in relation to the university’s general fund for fiscal 2017.
Despite the government funding cuts, the budget proposal doesn’t include an additional hike to enrollment fees already established through the phased increase, but recommends the reevaluation of other services offered to students, such as credit transfers, course repetitions and services offered by preschool centers.