Portland State University has closed a $15 million budget gap this year but faces more shortfalls if the budget forecast does not improve in the next few years, Vice President for Finance and Administration Monica Rimai said May 27 at a campus town hall.
“There’s very good news here — good news in an environment where we are still spending more money than we are bringing in on a regular basis, ” she told faculty, staff and students in Smith Ballroom.
Declining state revenues, rising health insurance and pension costs and flat student enrollment contributed to this year’s $15 million shortfall, which is about 5 percent of the university’s $276 million education and general fund budget.
The University took steps to balance the budget by making strategic cuts to athletics, administration and academics and increasing revenue.
Academic leaders tried to protect student support services and instruction, invest in programs with a potential to increase enrollment and avoid reductions that would result in a loss of enrollment, said Sona Andrews, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
“We felt as though we couldn’t cut our way out of this budget deficit and we couldn’t grow our way, solely, out of this deficit, so we needed some combination of growth and reduction,” Andrews said.
Despite this year’s budget rebalancing, the University is dipping into its fund balance to pay expenses this year and the shortfall is expected to grow to $12 million in the next two years, unless enrollment and state funding projections improve. PSU has requested $22.9 million more in state funding for PSU to maintain its current service level and pay for classroom and study space upgrades in the next biennium.
“What we’re really talking about is the cost of operating the university, a cost which has not been supported by the state for many years,” Rimai said.
In an open question and answer period, faculty and students asked about executive salaries, fundraising, summer session, athletics and the University Place hotel. Rimai encouraged ongoing discussions about those campus issues as future budgets are developed.
Go to the Finance & Administration website for more budget details.