Staff Photo: John Bohn — Georgia Gwinnett College third-year student Jaclyn Bailey, of Flowery Branch walks in the quad at GGC during a Tuesday afternoon class change. GGC is facing a possible $2.7 million budget cut.
LAWRENCEVILLE — A state budget proposal could lead to swift cuts at Georgia Gwinnett College, including up to eight furlough days in the coming months.
Leaders are asking legislators to restore the $2.7 million in the college’s special initiative funding cut in the governor’s proposal of the supplemental 2013 budget, which runs through this summer.
“We’re sympathetic to (Gov. Nathan Deal’s) responsibility to balance the budget, but to take that much out of our budget ... is extremely difficult without impacting people,” College President Dan Kaufman said of the furloughs, which will cause professors and other staffers to take a pay hit. “Our goal is to hold this as harmless for our students as we can.”
The college, currently in its sixth year at the Lawrenceville campus, has grown dramatically in a short time, causing legislators to set aside extra funds from the formulaic outlay for universities to accommodate the growth.
Without the supplement, the college would receive funding based on two-year-old student data. But Merri Brantley, the college’s director of external affairs, pointed out that enrollment has nearly doubled in that time to about 9,400 students.
“Obviously, if we lose the money, something is going to happen,” Brantley said.
Since the college is near the end of its term, the time is short to make drastic cuts, she said, which could mean nearly two weeks worth of furlough days for the entire faculty and staff.
Administrators are also considering cutting campus security, freezing all hiring and travel and reducing library hours. But with more than 80 percent of the college’s budget tied to salaries, Brantley said the options are slim.
“There is no extra money floating out there,” she said.
Like other universities across the state, officials have already cut 3 percent of their budget and they are expecting another 2 percent cut, which would mean another $1.4 million drop in the total $35.4 million state subsidy.
But Brantley said the local college is the only one facing the additional $2.7 million.
“The unexpected budget cut puts us in a very difficult situation,” Kaufman said, adding that another $5 million reduction is proposed in the Fiscal Year 2014 spending plan. “There’s no flexibility because our funds have pretty much been committed.”
Last week, local legislators were able to get a $500,000 increase to the governor’s proposed budget, when the House pass its version.
Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said the funding will be on local senators’ minds as they consider the document.
“Of course, the whole delegation is working behind the scenes to restore as much money as we can,” she said, as subcommittee hearings resumed Tuesday.